12 years ago I had completely forgotten too. I had forgotten what it meant to be vulnerable.
I was sitting in a narrow classroom, completely absorbed in myself, chatting about something I will never remember. Suddenly, Mrs. H burst in. Her face was awash with panic. Since panicking wasn’t completely unusual for her it took a while for the reality to set in.
My immediate reaction was to disconnect my heart from my head as best I could. I focused on walking, breathing, noticing details.
We all gathered in the cafeteria to talk, to pray. My body felt heavy, my stomach would not let me forget my emotions all together. Nothing we did felt right. I was angry that I didn't know what to do in the face of all this death and uncertainty.
Our neighborhood held a vigil that night. We lit candles and sat on the front stoop. Many people walked the neighborhood with candles in hand. Some stopped to talk, but much of the time was silent. More silent than ever with no planes roaring across the sky, not a single one. In the candlelight and silence I didn’t feel angry at all. I felt grateful to be alive. It was enough to simply be in that moment.
It is strange now because most of my students were toddlers when 9/11 happened. Their memories are filtered through their parents or guardians. Every year, I feel somewhat sorry for those who do not remember at all. I’m not sure why, but I feel as if they missed a moment of history that was real and that was pivotal. Each year I remember what it means to be vulnerable and that sometimes simply being in a particular place and time will change your life. It is beyond our control.
What do you remember? The start of a World War? The JFK shooting? The Berlin Wall coming down?
*As for the future, I would very much like to dedicate Wednesdays to guest posts. So many of you have art, music, writing that have enriched my life. If you are willing to share it on this blog, please, let me know... I can't wait to hear from you.