I don’t think I’ve written about September 11th before.
I’m driving someone to the airport today and it occurs to me I’ve never written about September 11th. Nothing’s going to happen, I tell myself. And nothing will.
I wasn’t in New York on September 11th, I didn’t lose a loved one, and it’s all been written. Millions and millions and millions of words. Talk about that day and you can get put in your place very quickly. A cousin, a classmate, a dear friend, a wife. Gone. You only saw it unfold on tv. They live it every day. That’s okay. I don’t need to put myself at the center. Even at a few removes it was, and remains, pretty painful.
Premature death is a theft, a taking, a hole in the fuselage of life. You try to keep flying but the cabin pressure is gone. You spin and spin and the ground rushes up to meet you.
Lift someone out of the photos and never put them back. What do the others do? How do they go on?
I’ve come to know some of the people immediately affected in the years since. We don’t talk about it. The brave, optimistic, worn faces of spouses left behind. Carrying on. Placing one foot in front of the other. The smiles of children that exactly mirror the smiles of dead mothers and dead fathers is almost too much to bear. If we can’t wrap our minds around it, how can they?
But they do. They live. They remarry. They raise the kids. They try to smooth out the warping, and oftentimes it works. They hover a bit, it must be admitted, but that’s okay. We hover over their kids, too, the orphans of Fate. Have a thought for such people today. They’re keeping inside, avoiding the television, only taking calls from relations, putting on brave faces for the kids. Breakfast for dinner.