FILED IN: Parenting

The Names

This time last year, my dear friend, Dana Tuske (who also is a columnist here at the Imperfect Parent) asked me if I would consider being one of her guest bloggers at The Dana Files and I was very honored by the compliment.

Until, her next email and I scanned down until I found my name on the blogging schedule — on September 11.

Riiiiiight.

I can’t believe that it’s been 7 years, but I remember how terribly frightened I was — living just across the bay from the World Trade Center in New York City — with my two oldest already in elementary school and me home, alone, with a toddler and a 2 month old.

So, sat down, stared at my laptop (pretty much like I’m doing now) then, closed my eyes and just listened.

Here’s what I heard:

There’s music playing — its rhythm is slow and solemn, like the beat of a broken heart — a moment of silence breaks into the sadness, as the hour turns dark and the names of strangers are carried on the wind.

I hear them all and try to focus on every syllable — but, I cannot watch.

Voices are broken — shattered to pieces and lost among the tears — but, I listen and try to ignore the pain, fearing the smallest interruption in thought as nothing less than an injustice.

There are so many names — male, female, officers, citizens — a bell tolls, as they continue remembering and move on in the alphabet.

They are only on the letter B.

Someone is speaking now — remembering her brother and his wonderful barbecued chicken — the family never stops thinking of him. Every day. Every month. Every year. They miss him.

A man is speaking of community, now.

He quotes that “No man is an island,” — how appropriate and terribly sad — the names keep coming. On and on they are quietly read by friends, lovers, sisters, brothers and colleagues.

I think I see their faces.

A mother begins to cry and I feel as if I can’t hold on, any longer — my head is starting to hurt — but, I continue to listen, to imagine and to mourn.
They’re on the letter C, now.

The same surname has just been read four times and I can’t help and think — I hope they weren’t related. But, then again, it doesn’t matter. They are joined together, now. In eternal peace and in memory.

Another fire fighter is remembered — and another — so many!

The names are beginning to run together — another fire fighter and brother — but, I listen and wait for, well, I don’t know what. The goosebumps to stop, perhaps?

Please, stop.

Oh God, this man is assuring his friend — a police or port authority officer, I think — that he is missed and that his wife is doing a wonderful job of raising their baby, now much more grown and still loving him.

I think of my youngest child — 2 months old, at the time — and how scared I was for her, my 3 year–old son, and my two oldest daughters. I remember calling their school — they were in kindergarten and 1st grade — wondering if my babies were safe and needing to hold them.

Later, the children were released — the teachers wearily handing off each and every one — we stayed behind to be sure that everyone had someone to hug.

No one could speak.

The skies turned quiet and I can still remember the strong smell of death — it is beyond disgusting — as the nightmare unfolded not too far from our own backyards.

We drove to the waterfront — as so many of our neighbors did, that day — and the skyline looked positively alien. What was once bright and shiny, was now black. Nothing more than that. Not much has changed.

They are on the letter D, now.

I hear the music, again — but, having grown accustomed its quiet lull — it doesn’t hurt so much, now. No peace, though. Still. I want to forgive. But, will never forget.

 September 11, 2001 — forever

The names continue.

[September, 2008: Snag Films announced their first annual September 11th Remembrance in Film. There are five documentary films slated, featuring the critically acclaimed 7 Days in September, the films will be available in their entirety, without commercial interruption, at both www.snagfilms.com and www.indiewire.com between September 5th and September 12th, 2008.]