That day I was running late (as normal) to my medical office manager job. Luckily, the doctors were running later than I was.
I opened up the office, turned on the local AM radio station the head doctor liked to listen to and started preparing the patient rooms for the patients that were coming in that day.
And as I was getting the ledger ready for the day’s entries, I heard on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. It sounded like it was a small plane. ‘A Cessna probably,’ I thought and continued my daily work.
Then the announcer started to get more panicked as news started coming in of another plane hitting the World Trade Center. Then a plane at the Pentagon. And another plane downed in Pennsylvania.
I can’t remember the order anymore, but I remember the panic in the announcer’s voice. I remember every one of our patients canceling that day. I remember sitting in the doctor’s private office with his old TV turned on so that we could see what was going on. After the office closed for lunch I remember going to a friend’s house so I could continue to see the news coverage. I remember being in line for gas for over an hour as I tried to get home and thinking that the world was falling down around me.
I remember not being able to sleep that night, and for weeks afterward, without the TV blaring because it was just too quiet and scary. I remember sitting inches from the television, listening to the president speak words that weren’t in my common vocabulary before, “Al-Qaeda,” “Jihad” and later hearing the name Osama bin Laden.
Even bringing those things out and speaking about them, 17 years later, still hurts. I still want to cry. I still want to scream. I still feel a thickness in my chest that threatens to overcome me. Perhaps it’s PTSD, perhaps it’s simply the fact that the visions of those towers falling will forever be imprinted in my head, no matter how much I try to get them out.
This year, on this anniversary, I’m already seeing posts about how we shouldn’t have memorial services. We shouldn’t be marking this day at all because we created these evil people with our Middle East politics in the first place. Some would rather use this day to rally against the government and its international politics. Others want us to turn this day into a national day of mourning to honor the heroic dead that died on this day to ensure it stays fresh and can be recalled instantly by every American.
The fact of the matter is, I really don’t give a flying shit about any of those things. Right now, I simply still just want to grieve.
I want to grieve for what my nieces and nephews have lost thanks to now necessary extra security measures.
I want to grieve for the pain of loved ones that are missing friends and family that should have come home from work that day.
I want to grieve for my own life changes because on that day I became a little less naive.
I want to cry for the people on that plane, who realized they were going to die no matter what happened, and decided to take it down themselves.
I want to grieve for the unity of the country after the event. That unity was caused only by the shared pain everyone felt. We all were willing to pitch in and do what we could to help those that were hurting and try to pick up and get things moving again. It was comforting, yet upsetting to see all at the same time.
And now, seeing the posts I am, I want to grieve for the loss of that unity as I think now it may truly be dead in this country.
So for today, I really don’t give a shit about why you say we should or should not have memorials and why this happened in the first place. I don’t care about comparing the number of people dead in wars versus this horrible event in US history. And I’m certainly not going to respect those who bang a drum of remembrance while saying we should be doing such and such right now because of the heroes that died on this day. And the people who continue to place fear in hearts and minds that this could happen again because they want to get something passed in Congress can just go to hell.
All I want to do today is fucking grieve. And try to heal. Something I’m still trying to do after 17 years. So just give me the space to keep trying.
Photo from Financial Express picture gallery