[Pic of myself on the Empire State Building, 12/1999, newspaper pics from 9/12/2001, purchased in Reno]
Seventeen years ago to the day [written 9/11/18], James and I were in Reno. We’d driven the 8 hours with our then-2 year and 10 month old daughters, Julia and Livy, to combine James’ business trip with a visit with my mom, who’d driven from California to meet us.
Courtesy of my sleepless daughters, we were awake early that morning, TV on, and when the South Tower started crumbling it looked—at first–like a puff of dust, and I can remember thinking the very same thing that Katie Couric(?) was saying: What is that?
“What is that?”
And by the end of that day, America knew what it was and we huddled around collective vulnerabilities, humbled by a hatred wherein lives of earnest goodness were erased by the invented reality of zealotry.
That day in Reno, my daughters played at a park, that had well-tended equipment placed in a garden setting with those little animals on springs that go back and forth and that spinny thing where you sit on a platform and hold onto bars to revolve into sickness. And while my daughters smiled and laughed, mom and I straddled the two incompatible worlds of children squealing from idyllic fun and people holding hands as they jumped to their deaths, and when I returned home to Salt Lake City the next day, I held Livy in the calm of night, sobbing as I rocked her in grief for the world she had already unknowingly relinquished.
But even from darkness there does yet come light.
For into years flew wisdom. That people died that day comforting one another, heroes ran up stairs they could barely see to save the lives of strangers, and human beings perished by their own efforts to reclaim an airplane destined to harm. And that grief and hate wrote stories of humans living ideals far above what any of us would believe we’re capable of allows us to fully see the integrity of the human heart.
And that they had to die for hate may we all stand to honor their story.
For that grief is imminent and worlds altered by zealotry, we can rock our babies more gently shedding tears of a waning dream, until risen from the fires out of stories of sadness, they age into seeing the world to a happy ending of their own effort.
Because through Time and love may we hold true to tears of the world and within such deeper wisdom each day write ourselves into a more beautiful story. Be the change.
[James’ and I had moved to Salt Lake City from in mid-2000, selling our Burke, VA townhome in to Stephen Neil Hyland who was killed that day at The Pentagon; James’ dad, Bob, also worked at The Pentagon in the very section that was destroyed but was not in it that morning for their offices had been remodeled and the furniture was not moved back. James and I divorced in 2007 and when his brother Steve was deployed to Iraq that same year, an American flag got placed outside 1531 Garfield Avenue in Salt Lake City, and remained there for the duration of his deployment (a year plus), becoming weathered and tattered and faded, a hole developing on the bottom, front corner (as even the slightest wind had made it catch on the thorny bushes that edged our lawn) and when Steve returned home, the girls and I took the flag down, folded the frayed fabric as best we could, and gave it to James to give to his brother. And that baby I rocked, now 17, is a magic being of light and caring I call “Fairy Daughter” for she dreams big dreams without ignoring the complexity and sadness and that something like her come from a moment like that, reveals more about this world than I ever knew possible.]