Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11: Five years and counting

I used to watch Sesame Street with my kids, and one of my favorite muppets was the Count. He would come sweeping in and boom in his terrible accent, "I am Count Dracoola, and I love to count."

We are a species that loves to count. We tally up our anniversaries, good and bad, anticipating the celebrations, carefully orchestrating the memorials, reliving the memories these ceremonies invoke. Even when we forget the events (or try to) they have a tendency to creep up and slap us anyway, with a gust of unexpected emotion. For years after my mother died I would find myself depressed on Memorial Day weekend. It was the holiday she had her final (and fatal) stroke.

Today, five years after 9/11 the emotions are still raw. Movies came out this year and my reaction to the trailers was unexpected pain. Too soon, I thought. Someone asked me if I wanted to see one of them, and I said "Yes, but not in the theater." Maybe at home, in the privacy of my living room... not in the theater.

What were you doing when the towers fell? Where were you? People asked that same question when Kennedy was assassinated. I remember exactly what I was doing and where I was in both instances. I was shocked and saddened by JFK's death, but I was coming out of my gym class at college. Someone had shot him far away in Dallas. It wasn't my business.

9/11 was different. I was here, in New York. I was standing in an airline satellite terminal at Grand Central, trying to exchange a ticket for a trip the following weekend... a clandestine trip, to meet a man for the weekend, someone I'd known and loved off and on for many years... someone who just happened to be married to someone else.

The events of September 11th changed my life. Not that day perhaps, but later, in response to it. It didn't happen far away, it was right here... it was my business. I say the events changed my life, but that's not exactly right. God used them to get my attention, to turn me upside down and set me on a different path. Oddly enough, that path led to a convent. Oddly enough I can't help but think of it as one of the good anniversaries.


J.T. said...

If,perchance, you are taking part in any 9/11 commemorative service today, please remember my family in your prayers. Thank you!

HeyJules said...

I could hear that story a hundred times. I love that God used that day to change your path in life.