Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'll See You In September

(The following post was entered in a 9-11 writing challenge. For more information about the challenge, please visit http://cathysplacetoblog.blogspot.com/ --If I had time, I'd figure out how to link that the right way--forgive me! Speaking of time, I'm not sure if I'll have any to write or post a blog in the coming week, and from the experience of having the same surgery exactly twenty years ago--almost to the day--I'm not sure how long it'll be until I can sit at my computer for the extended amount of time that it takes me to write my stories! So this post should tide me over for a while. Please do not feel the need to vote for me--I enter these contests merely to challenge myself. Thank you all again for your prayers and good wishes.)



September 11, 2001 will be ingrained in everyone’s memory forever—people throughout the world felt its effects and sensed the horror of this tragic event. However, I doubt that any two people were personally affected the same way, even if their tales are amazingly similar. Every soul carries the burden of 9/11 in a different manner, because as humans, we are all so amazingly different.

The weather was beautiful on that day. It was one of those crisp, wonderful, late-summer days that made a person so thankful to be alive. However, here on Long Island, we have many days like that in September. For the last six years, I have caught myself saying, “The weather was just like this on 9/11.” Who would’ve thought that something as simple as a dry, cloudless day would bring up memories of that tragedy?

I am reminded every day of the heartbreak of several neighbors as I drive past their houses; homes that are now vacant of husbands and fathers who were fallen heroes or sitting ducks at Cantor Fitzgerald. Where there used to be a wonderful skyline view of Manhattan on our drive to the beach, the empty space to the left of the Empire State building renders the picture incomplete. There has not been one occasion that I have crossed over a bridge or under a tunnel that I have not though about terrorism; the signs on the toll booths stating, “If you see something, say something” just confirm my fears even more. For six years, I have felt that my area is nothing more than a giant bull’s eye. No matter how I try to go about my daily business, something as insignificant as a plane flying too low overhead will cause my mind to revert back to the events of 9/11.

In my quest to eliminate my anxieties and not walk around in a constant state of fear, I realized that I needed to try to educate myself on the different cultures involved in that fateful day. Although it is hard for most of us to refrain from herding all members of a certain religion or culture into the same mental corral, I have tried to understand that all people are different, no matter where they come from or what they call themselves. It is extremely hard to live a peaceful life in my area if one is prejudiced in any way; this island is filled with people from every different race, creed, and culture you can imagine. It is unfair to blame all Muslims for the radicals who were involved and continue to be involved in their quest to destroy our country, just as I would be offended as a Christian to be associated with radical Christians who kill and maim other humans when they bomb abortion clinics. I know there are many, many people who disagree with me. But the reality is we only see what’s shown to us on television, or what we read in the newspapers. Unless we seek to educate ourselves, many of us will continue to live with constant feelings of hatred and anger, perhaps even going so far as to hurt or kill someone who doesn’t deserve it. I am not “romanticizing the enemy”—I know the enemy exists. I am merely saying that we are not hearing the voices of the thousands of Middle Eastern people who want peace just as much as we do. We’re only hearing about the ones who don’t.

I do still fear further terrorism; no matter how I can empathize with innocent people, the reality is that the radicals are still on their mission to bring us to an end. I worry about how I will get my family off the island in the event that a bridge or a tunnel is destroyed. I worry about whether or not I should store water and canned goods in my basement. I worry that my youngest will not finish high school in time for us to finally move off of this island before some other tragedy happens. The damage has already been done to our kids. They have already witnessed their friends losing parents in the towers. They have grown up in a time where they have known nothing else but the real and palpable threat of terrorism. Its existence is ingrained in them; they will never have an age of innocence, and the sadness is that they don’t even realize it’s missing.

I long for a simpler time, a time that was a reality in my life. A time before I had to imagine escape routes and hiding places. I realize a time like that does not exist anymore. The best I can do is put my fears into God’s hands, and live each day to the fullest.

13 comments:

Carine said...

Lisa, your right-we must live to the fullest! As a family, we decided that all days must have something unsavory about them-but we chose to celebrate our daughter and son-in-law's marriage. We replaced the horrible w/ something wonderful and amazing-the beginning of a new life. Forever more, we will not think of 9/11, but our daughter beginning her life as a married woman.

Mark said...

Lisa,
Great writing, thank-you for sharing. We often long for a simpler time, I don't know if that time ever truly existed. Seems like as I look back over the years, there was always something hanging in the balance the could be cause for concern. Simpler times seem to be memories of times where we were a little less aware, not times where we were any safer.

Mark said...

Lisa,
BTW - good luck with your surgery and a speedy recovery.

Lisa said...

Dear Carine,

It's funny, my daughter and I were at a small town traffic court the other night (we had both met up in that town and didn't realize that there was "alternate side of the street parking" there, so we both got tickets)...the judge gave one of the other offenders there time to get the money to the court, and set his date at 9/11. My daughter turned to me and said, "Ten years ago, that would've been any other day and would've been no big deal. Isn't it weird that we can't even hear that date without thinking something bad?" And it really is true.

You're lucky that you have something so wonderful and happy to replace that date with! I know you'll "always remember", but it's also remembering to be appreciative of the good times, because they do still exist, no matter what evil goes on in the world.

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Dear Mark,

Thank you for the complement and the good wishes!

I agree with you on that point, but I also feel that life was simpler without cell phones, laptops, business open 24/7 and credit cards...there's no more "down time." People can be reached all day every day, even if they're on vacation. And of course, we have all of these things because of our unnatural obsession over money. And with money brings power...and well, there's your problem right there! The real things don't matter to people anymore, and that's not limited to our country. Although I do hear that in Italy, they still take siestas and close their businesses on Sundays. HHmmmm...I DO still have some relatives over there...!! ;)

Loving Annie said...

That was beautiful, Lisa. Thoughtful and evocative. I hope that your entry wins !

May your surgery go well, your recoery be swift and complete, and the doctor properly balance your hormones so that the rest of the year goes smoothly for you !

*cyber-hugs and well-wishes*

Loving Annie

Lisa said...

Dear Loving Annie,

Thank you so much for the good wishses! I'm praying for health this season. It's kind of surreal to me; I guess I can't imagine a day without cramps!!

Thanks for the vote of confidence on my 9/11 piece. As I said, I don't enter these things to win (although one time I actually did)! I just like to keep my brain active and challenge myself.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Take good care,
Lisa

Shimmerrings said...

That was a wonderful piece, Lisa. And good luck! I remember the day well. I was in Germany, living in a military community. We were all scared to pieces. It was a very numbing feeling. Back then, I had written much, during those initial first few days. A reality synch.

Lisa said...

Shimmerings,

I can imagine how frightened you were. You should publish some of your writings in the next two weeks...I'm sure they would be interesting to read. Thanks for stopping by...I'm hoping to catch up with everyone and visit you and all of my other favorite blogs over the weekend. If I don't get to you then, I'll have plenty of time to do so after the surgery!

Take good care,
Lisa

LZ Blogger said...

Lisa - This is very well written and I especially love your last paragraph here. But... that last sentence is great advice for all of us at ANYTIME! BRAVO! (and thanks!) ~ jb///

Lisa said...

Dear Jerry,

Thank you so much for the complement! You seem like a person who appreciates everything in your life...you not only travel, but you get right down to the heart and history of all your destinations. That is what I call true appreciation!

Take good care,
Lisa

Big Dave T said...

Very keen observations. You know who else has the same powers of observation, and I don't mean to be flippant here, but comedians do. When I think about those same terrorists I'm reminded of a Richard Pryor routine, one he concocted long before 9/11. Here's some of what he said:

You have Muslims...then you have Double Muslims. Them's the ones you dont want to @!#% with-them double muslims. 'Cause them @#$#@$@ can't wait to get to Allah. And they want to take eight or nine @#$#@#$# (other people)with 'em.

Sorry I had to censor, but it was Richard Pryor.

Lisa said...

Dear Dave,

WOW. That is hilarious in one way--and really frightening and sad in another. He must've written that skit YEARS ago...I mean, he's dead now, right? And he was sick for so long. I guess we've had many years of warning...and perhaps the powers-that-be had their heads up...oops, I mean IN the sand for a long time!

Take good care,
Lisa