May 1, 2011


A few months ago, Peabo learned about Osama bin Laden in school. He learned the facts of the 9/11 attacks. What happened, and when.

Now he will learn that Osama bin Laden is dead.

I will try to explain to him what that means, and what it does not.

It does not mean an end to terror, or an end to war. It does not mean we can get back the lives or the innocence we lost on that September morning. Nor does it mean that our soldiers will get to stop fighting.

I don't want to remember. I don't want to remember the cranky nearly three-year-old and the big deadline at work that kept me from making my usual train into lower Manhattan that morning, and maybe saved my life. Or the view from the bus as we inched our way toward the Lincoln Tunnel and saw smoke and flames erupting from the first tower, then the plane slamming into the second. Or the fear that gripped every person on that bus as the authorities first cleared the tunnel, then sent us through, aware - all of us so very aware - that New York City, that our nation, was under attack. The shock as we watched the towers come down on a little black-and-white TV in the office of a man I'd never met before that day. The dust that was everywhere when I came back to work. And the smell that burned into our nostrils and our brains, and lingered, for weeks afterward.

But I will. I'll remember all of that. I'll remember the former colleague who took me in, four months pregnant and unable to get back to New Jersey, back to my son. The strangers who made sure she and I both had food and shelter. The quiet of busy Manhattan streets deserted of cars. The kindness of the people who lined them, handing out coffee and water to those who fled the devastation. The sacrifices, the bravery of our first responders. The neighbors and friends and friends of friends who died, who escaped, who survived. And the man who gave up his seat for me on the overcrowded train when we were finally able to go home.

I took a breath that day and held it. I held it through the birth of my daughter four months later. Through a change of jobs, a multi-state move, and the birth of my second son. I held it through my divorce, and through all the days that make a life.

Today, I let it go.

Just like that. I let it go.

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful post from an amazing writer. I am proud to know you, my sweet dutch sister.