Thursday, September 11, 2008

Journalists still living that day ... 9/11

We ran toward it.

We were slowly getting ready for work and saw the first alert. The TV was on, almost white noise in the background, but you always knew something must be up when the news anchor returned to the screen. In New York, it really had to be something big to break into the morning shows. Yeah, big.

I make a living writing and editing. I do good memos. Great birthday cards. Pithy blogs.

I hardly know what to say about 9/11....

We ran toward it. Across the river from New Jersey and into the city, against the tide of people leaving. That's what journalists do.

The next few days covering the stories, living the fear, watching friends-husbands-wives-lovers-kids hold on to the idea their missing would come home. Feeling guilty for not being as damaged as they were. The next few days opened a gash that has yet to close.

This is the first year I really thought I'd recovered. I even watched one of the better 9/11 movies and learned a little, watched it all the way through.

But today's Sept. 11, 2008. Seven years later.

I could not watch that movie today. I can't even watch the memorial service.. the celebrations.

There is one perfect moment, though, that I can pull from that wreckage. The Sunday after that terrible Tuesday we left town for just an afternoon. We drove to a place called Skylands, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens, which is an old estate, high on a hill.

There was no dust, no smell of electronic burning in the air.

There were giant trees, trees that had seen many wars, many battles, many attacks and survived. There was a beautiful world bigger and more enduring than those buildings in lower Manhattan.

That Sunday we found a few hours of peace. And a way to begin our healing.

Robin, Tempe

A NOTE FROM SEPT. 11, 2012:  Four years later, 11 years after that terrible day, I am so much calmer, stronger, more peaceful than 2008.  I woke this morning to spend some time in meditation, to ground myself before heading into a busy day in Arizona, where I now live.  

We have Twitter now. I can virtually BE in NYC or DC where people are walking down the street, commenting on how today is as crisp and clear and beautiful as that day 11 years ago. 

It IS a beautiful day. I pause and think back, honor all of us and step on into this new day.  

A NOTE FROM SEPT. 11, 2016:  Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of 9/11, a beautiful day that began as nothing more special than election day in NYC. I never know how I'm going to feel about the increased attention that comes along with the anniversary. 

I try to avoid people's memories of the day. We all know what happened. I know where I was and remembering it still makes me short of breath.  

But I have seen a couple of interesting stories this week. One was about kids whose father's died that day when their mother's were pregnant with them. These kids are old enough now to begin understanding the grief they have held in limbo. They have very strong feelings about the fathers they never knew.  

Esquire's story about Falling Man is, in general, about the people who fled from the fire in the Twin Towers and fell to their deaths and, in particular, about a journalist's attempt to identify one particular "falling man." This is a story most of us would have run from during earlier anniversaries. I certainly would have.  Tom Junod, the writer, patiently and respectfully helps us let go of the need to know particulars about the "falling man."   He helps me understand that the one man, the one image that captured our attention represents them all, he is very much like the unknown soldier of our tragic battle on that beautiful morning. 

Tomorrow, on Sept. 11, 2016, I will treat myself well. Spend time with loved ones. Appreciate that each year is a little easier than the one before. And one day, I may even be able to visit the 9/11 Memorial. 

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