Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

The other morning I woke with this Sharpie-marked, carpe diem napkin-note draped across my chest:

I am having pie for breakfast! Thank u! -- Lulu

I smiled and thought, That rascal, that petite gamine, taking full advantage of her late-rising family! 

It is a  rare moment that the girl should wake and get downstairs before her mother. And that banana cream pie from the night before... how does a twelve-year-old resist? How does a twelve-year-old not seize the day?

We are holding one another a little tighter today. We are staring at the endless blue sky and listening to requiems and sad, so very sad, stories. My brother-in-law, Tim, took his ten-year-old daughter, M,  to the Hatch-Shell at the Boston esplanade today to volunteer at the memorial gathering and tribute for those lost ten years ago on this same blue-skied September morning. M got to hold a dove before a whole slew of them were released.


As night thickens I realize that I haven't accomplished much today. It's been, I must confess, an entirely unproductive day. I've tried to write. I've tried to do something, anything that might make me feel like I'm seizing the day, that would pull me from the tube or the laptop or my own deepened depression. But I've felt woozy with the pain of those grief-stricken moments from all those years ago. I know people who lost loved ones. We all lost loved ones.

My husband was headed to Washington on September 11, 2001. He had left early morning to catch his flight out of Providence. At work, where I had watched the events unfold on a centrally located television I ran to my office and tried to phone my husband after the second plane hit the South Tower. The lines were taxed and I was unable to get through. I sat in my chair in my office, stared out the window and cried, cried, cried. Back then, my husband traveled so often that I didn't ordinarily have his itineraryI knew I'd hear from him when he reached his destination. That morning, I didn't know where he was. I didn't know that he had a connecting flight through Pittsburgh. I was panic-stricken for more than three hours. It was early afternoon when he first got through to me on his cell phone. The Pittsburgh flight, scheduled to depart for Washington soon after 9:00am, had been grounded and he'd been trying to secure a rental car in the mass confusion and frenzy. It would be two days before he was able to get himself home.

The morning of September 11, 2001. I cannot fathom the grief. I know the dread of not knowing. Not knowing if a loved one would return. The skies seemed brim with terrorists that day. Who was on what plane? Where were they headed? Where were they coming from? But a loved one not returning? The amount of utter grief. I cannot imagine. 

Tim sends me little updates from his Blackberry:

10:12am Boston. M is checking in choir members while I label seats for TJX families. Families of folks that could have easily been Betty [Backwoods Betty] or her Ad friends.

3:58pm. Boston. The bird of peace makes me wonder how hard it is for all of us to see that hate is senseless. Even as a response to violence, we still need to preach peace.

Today, especially, we mourn the loved ones who never returned to their families, we pay tribute to them and to those who willingly continue to risk their lives to aid and protect us. We count our blessings. We remember.

Listen to the stories. Tell the stories. Make peace with the world.

And seize the day, dammit. Eat pie for breakfast. Before it's all gone.

36 comments:

  1. I love that your daughter left a note on you while you slept!

    The profound grief I felt ten years ago on 9/11 is still very much the same. It hasn't diminished and it will always feel like it happened only yesterday...

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  2. "It's been, I must confess, an entirely unproductive day. I've tried to write. I've tried to do something, anything that might make me feel like I'm seizing the day"...

    hm, i don't think you necessarily have to equate 'seizing the day' with being productive, sometimes it's just good enough to not be destructive. and making a conscious effort to be aware of the happy in life is good too, and pie definitely helps with that!

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  3. I had a similar feeling today, just kind of overwhelmed with emotion, unable to focus on anything for long.

    I would say this post counts as productive-thanks Jayne.

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  4. Leonora- Going on about our lives, we must, but these days of remembrance, especially, know how to stop us in our tracks. This day, every year, does it for many of us.

    And yes, that little sprite, she knows how to enjoy life. (I loved it too.) ;)

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  5. Beautiful post. This anniversary affects us all differently. A somber day indeed.

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  6. id- Now you are acting like the superego (and you'll have to read JES's comment on my previous post to understand my comment here--oh and you can answer a question too!). But I appreciate that. And I wasn't destructive today, so, yeah--I was productive!

    You're so right, pie definitely helps. Pie puts a smile on a lot of faces. I wish I had had pie tonight. In fact, I'm quite hungry for pie right now. And I'm feeling a maniacal quiet giggle coming on thinking about how my son says, "I like pie" as if he's Smigel in the swamp. ;)

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  7. Tim- I wonder how anyone got any work done today. Gosh. Ten years doesn't sooth it.

    What heals, though, is all the amazing stories we hear about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, saving lives, helping however needed. Ten years ago, we saw the worst of what evil does, but also, the best of what loving hearts do. :)

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  8. Elizabeth- It's nice to see you here again, and thanks for being a part of this conversation. I'm betting your music soothes many a blue heart. I'm sure you know that your work--music--is a very big part of what helps to heal many. Thank you for sharing your talent (I saw one of your videos today-wonderful!), your songs, with us. :)

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  9. this is a very moving post Jayne - it must have been so harrowing. Being from another country my view of 9/11 was as an outsider - I can't imagine what it must have been like here in America.

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  10. Love the note from your daughter...

    We are forever changed by that Tuesday morning in 2001. Nice post.

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  11. Jayne, my father flew out of Providence that very morning also and it was nearly four days until I heard from him. It seemed that evil was expanded that day, reaching with bony fingers into each home and heart.
    Beautiful post…Thanks for taking the time to focus and write.

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  12. Yesterday was certainly an emotional day. It's hard to believe that ten years have already passed and the pain and loss is still radiating outward in an huge ripple. Very scary about your hubby. I would have been terrified too. Thanks, as always, for sharing your experiences in such vivid eloquence. You's a good writer, lady :) Cheers.
    -brandon

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  13. I, too, was unproductive yesterday which included reading blogs. How very scary having a loved one traveling that day. At church yesterday, we heard several people talking about losing family members and I was emotionally exhausted. I can't hardly process that kind of pain.

    I love the note. Pie is a great way to start the day.

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  14. Lovely post about 9/11. I overdosed on the TV coverage myself yesterday. Strangely we have homemade banoffee pie in the fridge. Is that the same thing (am I being stupid!)?

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  15. When we first turned on the news 10 years ago, the 2nd plane had not hit yet. My wife, knowing this was something big, put a tape in the VCR. We were both puzzling over how this could have happened when we saw the 2nd plane hit the other tower. Dan Rather was on and he stammered, as if he couldn't believe what he had just seen.

    I have had those tapes on my desk for months wanting to convert them to digital before VCR's go the way of the Model T. I haven't been able to bring myself to watch while converting them.

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  16. Very beautiful and moving post.

    I'd save that napkin.

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  17. This is a very nice post. I read it yesterday, and I decided not to comment because I was in a horribly awful mood. I spent all day at work, you see.
    I'm glad I put it off. I'd hate to ruin your beautiful sentiment with my crabbiness.
    You ought to frame that napkin.

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  18. David- "Harrowing" is a good word for it. Yesterday, in America, I think it was much like it was ten years ago. Only without the chaos. Very somber day.

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  19. Loree- I've so many notes from that little sprite. I could be writing for a long, long time about her little notes... but that would be giving her way too much attention. ;)

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  20. Leah- Four days?! That's awful. What immense relief you must have felt when you finally did hear. I would have had to have been straight-jacketed had it taken that long to hear from husband. (Or maybe he would have just been a heap load of trouble ;))

    Lord, the stories out there. I couldn't focus yesterday until the sun went down--that's not usually the best time of day for me to be writing. When I went back to read this post this morning, I realized how awfully unfocused it looked, and I immediately grabbed the red pen. I'm hoping daylight helped. ;)

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  21. Brandon- Thanks for that. Yes, the pain is still red-raw. But the time, at least, has made room for understanding. I do think that we are moving forward, ever so slowly, to a greater awareness of our global world and its diverse people--and a tolerance for those who are not exactly like ourselves. These are the little steps forward that remind me that hope is not an illusion. :)

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  22. Cheryl- I spoke with my mother yesterday. She's in Maine for the summer--out in the most gorgeous, untouched stretch of wood and lake and far away from civilization. (Well, ok, I exaggerate. A bit.) There's always something for her to keep busy with up there. Yesterday, she was unproductive, too.

    I think this day will forever be reserved for non-production.

    My daughter's going places, huh? ;)

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  23. Dicky- I had to look up Banoffe--that is my kind of dessert: "English pastry-based dessert made from bananas, cream, toffee from boiled condensed milk (or dulce de leche)..." (From Wiki.)

    No, this is not the same as our banana cream pie. Banoffee is banana cream pie made with love! I would definitely eat banoffee for breakfast. I would probably eat banoffee just about any time of the day. In fact, I might head over to your place for that banoffee. Please save me a piece. (My, it's getting late...) ;)

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  24. Robert- Wow, that's quick thinking on your wife's part. I never would have thought of that (but I never tape anything).

    When you think how far we've come with our technology in just ten years--all that converting we have to do--don't you wish the whole world would evolve at that same pace? Rapid understanding of one another! Convert to Peace! Much less static. And it's cheaper and more effective.

    Sheesh. :/

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  25. Antares- I still have the napkin, but you know I'm going to have to use it sooner or later. She does this with all our napkins. Actually, she writes on just about anything she can get her hands on. But the backseat of the car is where I draw the line. Oh, did she have fun scrubbing that car... ;)

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  26. Nessa- I'll bet your mood was less conspicuous yesterday. People were in all kinds of odd moods, as should be expected.

    Thanks for coming back today, though. And frame the napkin? Oh lordy, the frame store does not have enough little wooden frames for all the notes and artwork I have. But, framed, it might look kind of cute in the kitchen. (Somewhere near the fridge, of course.) ;)

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  27. That feeling of uncertainty and dread is so disquieting.

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  28. Laoch- Yes. And thank the gods my loved on came home. But 9/11 was also a wake up call. We need to be sure we do more than feel. We need to look at this tragedy from a larger perspective as well. There are so many atrocities across the world. Every day. Every day people are murdered or tortured or hurt or treated inhumanely. Their names are not read at any service.

    I think about the starving Somalians' death march across the desert. Why is there no food? We (America) play a part in this tragedy by way of antiterrorism restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of people are at imminent risk of dying from starvation. They are dying. There's so much to do... Too often politics has the effect of obstructing relief.

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  29. Great post, Jayne. My wife was in NYC on 9/11 and watched in person as the second plane struck and the towers came down. There's much more on her blog. Glad you seized the day. We all need to do that every day (not necessarily with pie), but in the way we interact with others.

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  30. My 9/11 this year was a totally lazy day in our cabin. I partly followed the 10-year memorial broadcasts in TV, and I still think it's unbelievable that it really happened. I was in San Antonio on 9/11 2001. Some friends and family with poor knowledge of American geography worried about my safety. I told them to relax: San Antonio is 4 hours by plane from NYC.

    Cold As Heaven

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  31. Michael- I read her post on 9/11. I would imagine that those in NYC on the day of the attack will haunted for the rest of their lives.

    More reason to seize the day. Not with pie? I don't know, my son says pie makes everything better. ;)

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  32. Cold- A lazy day in the cabin sounds like the perfect way to spend almost any day.

    The thing about that day--no one really knew where terrorists lurked. New York, Washington, where ever. It seemed as if it could have been a pretty big operation. I think a lot of people, no matter where they were in this country, felt very vulnerable that day.

    My mom called me at work (my office was a bit south of Boston) on 9/11 to make sure I was alright. But that's what mother's do, isn't it?

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  33. That note may be one of the most wonderful bits of writing I've ever read. I love this girl.

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  34. Kimberly, sweetheart-- You are back on the blogosphere! Poetry? Is there more? I guess I'm going to have to pay you a visit and find out...

    I think that girl would right love you, too. ;)

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