They originally said it would take two years to clean up, but here we are not even eight months later and the cleanup phase is over.
There are still 1,700 or so bodies that have not been recovered. That's 1,700 families that will not get any kind of closure.
I know it is impossible to find the remains of every last one of them. But eight months seems like such a short time to be looking, considering the huge pile of debris that lies where the towers once stood.
For the families, it means an end to any hope they had of finding something of their loved ones. If not their bodies, then maybe a wallet or a shoe or anything that will represent the person they lost.
For the firemen who have been working there, it means leaving the recovery site and going back to their firematic duties. It means that eight months later, their hopes are being quashed, and the only thing that was giving them a sense of meaning at the moment is gone.
For the city, it means clearing the land for more business, more money, more taxes.
It had to happen eventually. But not yet. Not now. Not when the grief is still fresh and the hope was still there for some and the wounds hadn't even scabbed over yet.
At 10:29 a.m., as the last beam is taken from the site and a flag draped stretcher representing the unaccounted for victims is marched out of the rubble, millions will watch as we are symbolicaly told to close this chapter and move on to the next.
Maybe it's just me. See, I'm stuck on this chapter. I can't get to the end because I keep putting the damn book down.
I no longer read news stories about it. I don't watch tv specials reliving the horror. I close my eyes as I walk past that section in the bookstore that displays the hundreds of books already printed in rememberance of September 11, 2001.
Everything is still fresh. People are still adjusting to this new world, the one where the New York City skyline has changed forever, the world where the sight of a plane overhead brings chills, where the sound of sirens brings fear, where you dread to turn on the news in the morning, the world where the sun visor of my car holds the funeral card for Pete Ganci.
I'm sure there are many people who are ready to move on and welcome today's symbolic pageantry. I think I'm just not ready to start living in this new world because I have yet to let go of the old one. The sense of safety and peace and freedom has been taken from us, and to watch the ceremony and accept the end of the cleanup is to accept the new way of life.
I'm just not ready. Go on without me, I'll catch up.