I thought I knew everything. I understood how it happened, the sequence of events, the aftermath, the death and destruction. I thought I knew every detail, every story, every rumor, implication and theory.
Of course, I was wrong. Could it be that it took me over two years to realize that I - we - will never know everything about September 11, 2001? I don't mean the mechanations of the plan, or the years leading up to the actions of al Qeada; I don't expect to know that.
Perhaps what I thought happened is what I wanted to believe; that the people on the planes that hit the buildings never knew what was happening. I wanted to believe that one minute they were reading or sleeping or watching a movie and then, they were dead. There was no fear, no panic. Just sudden, painless death.
Listening to this tape
today, I can see how wrong and naive I have been.
Can you imagine being in that situation
? You are on a plane, crew members have been stabbed. You can't breathe because of chemicals sprayed in the air. You know without being told that your life is over. You're with your spouse, your child, your best friend. What do you say? Do you tell your small child that she's about to die and mommy loves her very much? Do you kiss your husband good-bye or do you just sit and stare out the window, frozen by fear?
For two years I thought only of the people in the buildings that were hit and the rescuers who ran into those buildings as they were crumbling down. I imagined their horror, felt their pain, lived their nightmares. I cried for them and was angry for them and vowed to never forget them. Oh, I cried for the victims on the planes as well, but I never gave as much thought to their last moments as I did to the WTC victims' last breaths.
I'm reading yet another book about 9/11. It's a book of personal stories, much like the Voices project
. There are passages about the victims I never thought about; the people who were sitting in nearby stores or just walking past the building as the planes crashed and pieces of steel and concrete fell to the ground. People just sitting in a cafe, eating breakfast and then a crash and sudden death.
I listened to the tape against my better judgment. I knew what I would start feeling. I knew all the old familiar anger and sadness would surface all over again.
But I am also aware that there are still so many stories I don't know and may never hear. Now I am thinking of Betty Ong's family - would you want to hear the last words of your loved one? Would you want to know what her last minutes were like? Would you want the whole world to listen to them?
Is it weird for me to worry about people I don't know? I wonder how the families are getting along. I wonder if they relive the whole thing every time another article is written, another memorial is erected, another story is told. I worry about people I know - Jeff
and people who were there
, who lived through it and probably relive it all the time.
I do think I'm
getting better.. All those emotions are still there and there is new sadness today to add to the buildup that already festers deep inside. But I am no longer consumed by it. I can react with passion and not let that passion give way to irrational tirades. I can write about it without launching into an attack on conspiracy theorists and certain people who practice a certain extremist version of a certian religion.
See? I'm calm. I'm upset, but calm. I think being angered by hearing the voices of 9/11 has been replaced by being haunted by those voices. And those voices are the reason I want to elect a leader who will make sure that a day like 9/11 never happens again.
It's taken me over two years to even begin to let some of it go. I can't imagine how long it will take for Betty Ong's family, or people like Rod Boyd
Point to this post? None. Just another written-on-the-fly thought process made public.