11 September 2006

The elephant in the living room

See, here's the thing about September 11. It's always been the same date, and it's always been a time when people are getting settled into the same old routines after a summer vacation, or the new school year, and thinking about the fall weather. Even when it's sunny and around 80 degrees.

But ever since September 11, 2001, it's sort of turned into the proverbial elephant in the living room. You know what happened, and you probably remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, what you first thought had happened. It's one of the worst things you have to remember, even if you try to not think about it too much. But you can't get away from it, and you can't not talk about it, even if just to say that you don't want to talk about it.

So here we are five years later, and everyone is remembering. For a lot of us, it's something that we might occasionally think about the rest of the year, but not as often as we used to. Unfortunately for some, it is the worst day of their lives, and it would be hard to think of how anything else could ever be worse.

But like any death or extreme loss, you don't necessarily get over it. Ever. You do however, get used to it. It's not really a conscious decision, it just happens because no matter what, you still get up the next day, and live your life. Very few of us have the luxury of withdrawing from the world completely.

I hope that nothing even close to the terrorist attacks ever happens again, to anyone. I'm not completely convinced that it won't, but I also know that I am not interested in always looking over my shoulder, so to speak. I sincerely hope that the families and friends of the people who died on September 11, 2o01, have found, or will still find, a way to go on and see their lives as worth living still, and be able to find some modicum of happiness again someday.

But I would also like to suggest that we also remember that September 11 is still just that: a day in the universe, the eleventh day of the month of September. For all of the sorrow we automatically pin onto it now, there are people for whom it is/was/will be, one of the best days of their lives. Maybe a new baby, maybe a wedding anniversary, maybe just a day when the only thing required is to enjoy the day. They shouldn't have to feel guilty about it. Because when you come down to it, we're all still here, and there's a lot to be said for just that fact.

I think that being able to keep that in mind lets me acknowledge the elephant in the living room, but not allow him to take up all of the space in the house.


the wicked witch of the east said...

it's a really hard subject to navigate, even 5 years later...it's like you said, you want to honor the the significants it bears but at the same time you don't want it to become an albatross...i just don't think we're there yet, and perhaps it will take another generation to come along before we do, in the same sense as when pearl harbor took place...people who were around to witness that event still carry that with them, while for rest of us, it's mostly a chapter in a history book...perhaps this too will be another chapter in a history book that some kid has to read about how stupid people were way back when...;)

Carol said...

Well said.