Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th: Never Forget

One day maybe I
Won't have tears behind my shades
Walking home from work

My souvenir t-shirt from today's Brookside Engine Company Clam Bake in Mendham Township, NJ, says "Never Forget," but September 11th has not truly been top of mind for me today. In a way, 9/11 will always be a part of me, but my thoughts these days are more of gratitude than of grief. Grateful that Rex and I survived, grateful to have our family safe here in Mendham, grateful to live in the United States, grateful to be able to eat clams and drink beer in a field while our kids play nearby... safely.

September 11th continues to render me speechless, but last year I read an essay by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Children of 9/11 Grow Up" that really hit home. Noonan begins:

It is eight years since 9/11, and here is an unexpected stage of
grief: fear that the ache will go away. I don’t suppose it ever will, but grieving has gradations, and “horror” becomes “absorbed sadness.” Life moves on, and wants to move on, which is painful for those who will not forget and cannot be comforted. Part of the spookiness of life, part of its power to disorient us, is not only that people die, that they slip below the waves, but that the waves close above them so quickly, the sea so quickly looks the same.

Not for me. Now nine years later, though we've moved out of Manhattan, my babies are growing up and our lives have changed so much, it feels like it was yesterday I took the photo at right from our old neighborhood in the West Village on Bleecker and 12th Street. Noonan continues:

"9/11 was for America’s kids exactly what Nov. 22, 1963, was for their parents and uncles and aunts. They were at school. Suddenly there were rumors in the hall and teachers speaking in hushed tones. You passed an open classroom and saw a teacher sobbing. Then the principal came on the public-address system and said something very bad had happened. Shocked parents began to pick kids up. Everyone went home and watched TV all day, and the next."

That's Rex holding seven-month-old London along the Hudson River after both towers had fallen; I was pregnant with her sister, Maddie. I wonder how much, if anything, they remember or understand about that day.