Monday, September 11, 2006

We are three thousand

I love the poem "We are Seven" by William Wordsworth. I thought about it the other day because my sons were fighting, as brothers who suddenly have a new person vying for their parents' attention are wont to do. I said to them, as I often do: "Be kind to each other. He's the only brother you have on this Earth." (I have had 3 miscarriages, and I know at least one of them was a boy. I'll link to the post if I have the time to search for it.)

See, as Christians, we don't believe that death is the end of the line. The little girl in the poem knew it very well (Didn't Jesus say something about having childlike faith to enter the Kingdom of God?). My sons know that they have siblings in heaven who will be there to meet them. And my daughter will know it too. All of us should be like the girl in the poem.

That's what should make a day like today a little more easy to bear. I live in North Jersey, about 10 miles away from Manhattan, as the crow flies. I didn't know anyone who was killed that day. But I remember that day vividly. My mother and my husband were at work. I was at home with 8 month old Primo, watching "Good Morning America." It was a beautiful day. Would we head to the park later? What would we do today? The local ABC affiliate cut into the broadcast to cover this plane accidentally crashing into the World Trade Center. Then the second plane hit. I remember thinking: "Boy, some air traffic controller really screwed up, eh?" My mom called from work and asked if I was watching the TV and I said yes. She said, "You know we're under attack, don't you?" And then I snapped out of my naivete. duh. Two airplanes don't crash into those buildings by accident. One maybe, but not two.

I had a hard time reaching my husband, who was working west of where we are, nowhere near Manhattan. He was on the treadmill in the fitness center watching it all on the TV. He finally called me, anxious to know how we were. By now, the Pentagon had been attacked. I remember him saying, "If anything else happens, I want you and Primo to come out here. There are a lot of oil refineries in town and I want you guys out of there if something happens." I just wanted him to come home.

September 12th was even worse. The wind changed, it was blowing in from the east. The fires were still going strong in the rubble at Ground Zero and there was a haze in the air here in Linden. And a stench like death that came over with it from Manhattan. And it was eerily quiet. See, we live in the flight path for Newark Airport, so our windows rattle continuously from all the planes that take off every day. And all the flights were grounded. My mother lived in an apartment in Newark, on the 10th floor. She heard planes, but they were fighter jets.

A month later, the Tribute in Light reached into the sky to the east of my home. I still look up in the eastern sky at night and miss its glow.

So many people died on that day. But they're not really gone, are they? Still, I couldn't bear to watch the coverage from Ground Zero this morning, with the names of all those who were killed that day being read aloud. I have deliberately stayed away from coverage of that day. To see people jumping out of windows of the WTC, to watch people try to outrun the debris from the collapsing towers, is just a little too much for me. Maybe my faith isn't strong enough. But I know that we are not seven, we are three thousand.

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