Sunday, September 11, 2011

So today is 9/11...ten years later...I'm not crying either

My blogging pal Jessica wrote a post today, about what day it is, and I feel very similarly. She closed comments (you can read why over there), but I wanted to respond, so I am doing so here:

Today, I'm not crying either. I have no reason to. Yes, it was a horrible day. It will always be a horrible day.

I was a senior in college when it happened, and while I watched people all around me panic and worry about loved ones (while most students came from MA, NY was #2 and SO many people knew people who died that day), I had no fear, really. I knew where my family was, no one I knew died that day, no one I knew lost anyone. Oddly enough, I knew a few people whose parents used the WTC subway stop or worked in one of the towers...but they either were safe in their buildings already, took the day off, or were RUNNING LATE FOR WORK. How awesome is that? I was horrified by the images on TV, and I watched with my friends all day, especially after we heard about the Pentagon and Shanksville. (Um, and WHY does everyone forget about THOSE TWO PLACES??? Because the Pentagon didn't fall down? Because Shanksville was a farm?)

I remember someone bringing up the day a few years ago, and I was kind of "whatever" about it. Which shocked a few people. But, look at it this way, if I'm sad for not losing anyone, aren't I cheapening the sadness for those people who did lose someone? I cried the most I had ever cried in my life when I lost my grandfather last October. I sobbed and wailed in church. I had never done that, ever. I couldn't stop crying. Even thinking about that right now makes me want to tear up. To me, that's totally fine.

Being sad and/or crying on 9/11 makes me think of this story: When I was a sophomore in high school, a very popular and well-liked student died from cancer. He was either a junior or a senior. The school arranged for buses to take his friends and teammates to the funeral. They also opened it up for anyone else to go. So many people used it as an excuse to get out of school, while they didn't know him, they still went to the funeral, to "pay their respects." I remember thinking "How dare you? You weren't friends with him, you didn't play football with him, you weren't friends with his siblings...why do you need to go? Why are you 'sad'?"

I was thinking today about my life since 9/11/01, and if it has changed that much. People have called it the day everything changed. Sure, we need more ID when we do things, but that's not a bad thing. The rules about flying are a pain (including the 3 oz liquids rule), but before 9/11/01, I'd flown TWICE in my life. After that day, I've flown three times. Big deal. I'm sure the rules about flying would have changed at some point eventually. I go to NYC more now than I ever did before 9/11, but that's because I'm older and have friends who live there. I never feel scared there.

For a person who is often anxious, it's funny that this attack didn't make me too upset and that I don't fear another attack. When I was a sophomore in college, a kid on my floor died of an asthma attack. I didn't know him, his room was on another wing, but that bothered me more. Same as when a guy in my class died a month before graduation, after falling out of a tree. I didn't know him either. Maybe it was because both deaths were close to my then-home? Maybe because they were peers? Who knows.

Why don't I fear another attack? Because bad things have always happened. I can't predict another one. I can't stop one from happening. I've experienced a different kinds of trauma since then, more personal types. My focus has been on those. Some might call me selfish, but I don't see it that way. We always need to focus on what's affecting us, before we can worry about other things. To use an airplane analogy (and if this is seen in bad taste, my apologies): you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help someone with theirs.

I don't know how to wrap this up--this post as a whole seems pretty disjointed. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your Sunday, and if it was a good day, great! If it was a sad day, tomorrow will be better.

(PS. Today is also the fifth anniversary of me starting my job. Who knew I'd still be there?)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I wonder if maybe I shouldn't have closed comments... I was so sure people were going to think I was a terrible person, but maybe better they tell me than just think it?

    if I'm sad for not losing anyone, aren't I cheapening the sadness for those people who did lose someone?
    That's a really interesting thought. I wouldn't want to judge someone if they were sad about it and hadn't lost anyone, but I've never wanted to fake sadness about 9/11 for just this reason--wouldn't it be a mockery of those who were truly mourning?

    When somebody dies who is especially young or dies in an unexpected or tragic way, often many more people will come to the funeral than knew the person, but more as a show of support for the family than because they are all truly grieving.

    Interestingly, your story about the students wanting to get out of school reminded me of what happened on 9/11 (which is when I was a sophomore in high school). They made an announcement that there were counselors available and that students could go home if they were really upset or if someone in their family might be directly affected. A lot of kids used the opportunity as a free pass to get out of school early. They were doing the same thing--abusing the support that had been set up for people who were truly distressed.

    At church, our priest made some statements that really bothered me: 1) that "every human being was affected by 9/11"--no, they weren't, and 2) that we saw the pictures of victims on TV but "never knew them, never knew their names." Um, yeah, some people did. When will people start realizing that not everyone experiences things exactly the same way??

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I think I'll go open up comments on my post now :)


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