Eleven years ago today, I sat in a Greenwich Village office at Cardozo Law School (which kindly provided me with office space during my sabbatical from St. John’s). As I worked, I heard sirens and other loud noises and I thought, “NYC is a lot louder than it used to be.” After some time, I realized that what I was hearing was not normal NYC traffic.
Eleven years ago today, my uncle Mike – then five years younger than I am today – called his wife from his office in the WTC to say a plane had hit the other tower, but that they had been told not to evacuate. That was the last time anyone heard from him.
Eleven years ago today, my uncle Mike, my friend Clarin and my friend Nancy’s brother and my law school classmate Chris and and so many others lost their lives.
Eleven years ago today, my nephew Michael stood at his high school classroom window and my cousin Carl stood in a doorway (having himself just gotten out of one of the towers), each watching bodies fall from the roof to the street.
Eleven years ago, and I can still close my eyes and remember the sounds and the smell and the feelings. I can still feel the horror when I went to the New School to look at the list of the dead and could draw no comfort from the absence of my uncle’s name because all the names listed were “John Doe”s. I can still remember standing in the long line outside the Armory in Manhattan to register my uncle among the missing persons. I can still see in my mind the white ash that covered the fire trucks at the fire station down the street from Penn Station. I can still taste the fear as I took the train in and out of Manhattan in the ensuing days, wondering if an explosion would prevent me from making home to my young daughter and my husband. And I can still feel the pain I experienced every time I looked at the flyers put up by hopeful people who thought someone, anyone, might somewhere, anywhere have seen their missing loved ones. I can still feel and see all of these things as though it were yesterday and I wonder sometimes, if it will ever seem a distant memory.
Eleven years is a long time. But there are still moments, like this morning, when the grief rises up. Moments when the feelings overwhelm.
I have only one answer for those moments: prayer. I pray that we will one day learn to resolve our differences without bullets and bombs and without flying planes into buildings. I pray for peace – peace in our hearts…peace in our minds….peace in the world.