Monday, September 11, 2017

I Won't Forget


Every year, on this day,
I try to write something
I think will be poignant,
honest and help to
honor the heartache
that still lingers for so many.

As time marches on, the
memories of that awful day,
start to get hazy around the
edges. It’s not sepia toned however,
it’s still vibrantly colorful in it’s
horror and sadness.

And I know
I will never forget it.
Even when I’m a toothless old
man.

I’m sure I’ll be able recount every
detail of my 9/11 day, even in the depths of senility.
Seeing the second plane hit the tower
on TV as I ironed my pants for work, the
silence on the train as it pulled into
Union station, the pale faces in my
office, the sad hug I shared with a co-worker
whose birthday is today.

I’ll remember crouching next to
my boss’s desk in her office that
faced the Sears Tower and her telling
me that the office was closing and to
go home.  The fear in the voices
and tears on the cheeks as we watched
the tragedy unfold back in a bar in Union Station.

I remember a guy at the bar telling
me how we were now at war with some
other nation and me telling him that I hoped
to never see him on a battlefield and that this
peaceful meeting in this crowded bar
would be the only time we’d meet.
We shook hands.

I won’t forget the crowds waiting for
the trains, panicking when our train
was moved from one track to another,
and the mass rush to escape Downtown.
I’ll never forget the terrified faces of
the people rushing past me.

I will always remember the old woman,
slowly walking with a cane next to me
along the platform as people bustled around us
in abject fear, and her comment to me that
this was nothing new to her and she’d been
through it before.  I remember taking some
comfort in her dignified and calm demeanor in
the whirlwind of panic.

I remember the well dressed man, in a nice suit,
arm in a sling, crying within the crowd because
someone had bumped into his already injured shoulder
and the disdain I had for his selfish weeping. I looked
at him with such disgust as he cried about his
arm in light of the tragedy unfolding.

I remember boarding the packed train and calming those
around me as rumors of seven other planes allegedly
still in the air, telling them there were no other planes
in the sky. Not a single plane was flying, anywhere.
The nervous chatter of people not sure what to do,
how to act or what to say to each other.

When I got to my train stop, I got off and found my
mother had been on the same train, and we hugged
each other  on the platform and it was the most natural
thing in the world. I heard the passengers that saw us hug
“ooh” and “ahh”, likely hoping they would soon embrace
their loved ones.

We went home, watched buildings fall, saw lives end, all on
TV.  Everything we had become accustomed to stopped that
day. The things that seems so important,
were now terribly mundane.  I still feel the
shock and sadness of it all. It became part of who I
am and how I will forever view the world.

So when you see me, maybe sixty years from now,
when I’m in my hundreds, I’ll tell you all about it.
And I’ll make sure, even when I don’t know where
my shoes or teeth are, that I remember this day.  

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