Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fragile


Nine years ago, I was ready to embark on graduate school at NYU. It is almost cliché now: it was a beautiful, crisp autumn day with an azure sky. In Pennsylvania, the leaves were starting to change colors. I was excited to watch a Sting webcast that night from Italy. I had gone for a run that morning, coming back to a message to call the neighbor about picking up deck cleaner. I was putting milk on my cereal when my neighbor commented that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I quickly turned the news on to see the second plane disappear into the South Tower. I had just recently returned from Belfast and did not expect terror to follow me home. I did just see that. A goddamn fucking plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. Thanks to some great teaching in my international studies classes at Pitt, the names and dates of terror plots of past flashed through my head. My mom couldn't figure out which TV to watch. We just sat and stared.Stared as people died. Stared as people ran for their lives. Stared at our country under attack. I will forever remember Jim Miklaszewski commenting about hearing an explosion at the Pentagon. And will forever feel the lump in my throat when the voice on our police scanner recalled all volunteer crews the report of a plane down west of Johnstown. My mom commented about the Tower tilting before it pummeled to the ground. We were essentially watching the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Ferdinand being shot assassinated or the Boston Massacre. We were watching history unfold before us.

 
 By noon, it was eerily silent. No planes flying overhead, the last one was Flight 93. We watched, listened to the reporters tell what they saw, fuel gossip about cell phone calls calling from the rubble. For some stupid reason, MTV played Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah, a song about sex and longing not loss and mourning. Then of course, Sarah McLachlan was in rotation 24/7. Stunned, numb, shock. No one knew what to do. To this day, I cannot eat Dinty Moore steak beef stew because I tried to eat it that day. The smell makes me sick. My neighbor saw Flight 93 near the Galleria airport, thinking it was simply one of the planes trying to land - but oddly she thought, why is it going away from the airport?

 
Trying to get away from the news, I wondered if the webcast would be on. It was. Sting commented that they would play one song and then possibly end it, out of respect. But they would see how they felt. Sting and his band played an entire set. A set that took me away for an hour from what was happening. He opened with Fragile, a song hauntingly reminiscent of what was happening that day: If blood will flow, and flesh and steel are one...

 
Fast forward to now. I never thought I would work so closely with the men and women who ran for their lives that day. Fire chiefs, the men who carried Father Judge to the alter at St. Peter's, police officers and firefighters who survived that day, sometimes only to relive it on a daily basis, those I work with from the medical examiner's office who are still painstakingly trying to find new methods of DNA identification,  friends from DC who were at the Pentagon...I haven't forgotten. It is an honor and privilege to know I work with you and that some of you have become my very dear friends. To my husband,it still pains me to know how many friends you lost that day. I couldn't imagine our life more full than it already is now with names, faces and stories. I hope the pain subsides year by year, that the memories are no longer bitter sweet. I long for all of us to not shudder when we wake up to a blue sky day in September.


Today, remember the heroes, the ones gone and the ones living, give an extra hug to the ones you love and Never Forget.

1 comment:

  1. While I was in Iraq an incident occurred and I attempted to eat easy mac, well really the incident occurred while I was eating easy mac, but my point is the same as yours, I can't even look at the box without getting agitated.

    It's a tough day, thank you for being thoughtful. I hope your well. Send Billy my regards.

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