I still have this sickening feeling in my stomach whenever I see or hear an airplane. I have stopped driving down Wynnton Road because I cannot bear to look at the AFLAC tower. Three nights ago a plane flew over the house when I was outside and at first, I got that same familiar sick feeling when I heard it - then my sickness turned to horror as I looked up and saw the sparks flying from the engine of the plane and what appeared to be flames of some sort. It looked like fireworks! I didn't believe what I was seeing at first, having never seen anything like that. I ran into the house and grabbed the cordless phone and called 911 to see if they were aware of this situation. The operator was absolutely dumbfounded for a few seconds and told me that she would notify the airport and thanked me for calling. My neighbors were outside taking out their Christmas tree and we stood there, horrified, watching that plane spewing sparks and circling the airport for the better part of 10 minutes. Eventually it landed at the airport, though no mention of it was made on the news or in the paper that evening. (My stepmother said she heard something about it but was barely paying attention.)
Later that evening I remembered talking to the operator and it hit me all of the sudden... I had dialed 911. 911. 9/11. And I cried and cried.
This is very much a different world from the one I lived in a few months ago. I cannot stop imagining those people falling from the Trade Center. Or the ones in the towers before they fell down. What were they thinking? How many on the upper floors knew what was happening? Did they feel that somehow they would survive this? How many close to the planes' impact survived the initial crash and agonized until they died? Were they alive when the buildings collapsed long enough to realize it was happening? What was Christmas like for their families? Their parents and siblings, spouses and children, friends and lovers... What are we supposed to do in order to live with this?
I am not sure what to do with myself at times when I ponder these things. It is just entirely too big, and it represents some of the things I never imagined possible in humanity. Though I have had a lifelong emotional connection to the atrocities in the Holocaust and in Cambodia, I never imagined such a thing would be a part of my own history. Yet here I am and I accept that there are no answers for the questions I have. Which sometimes gives me enough pause to start asking different questions.
The truth is I will never stop feeling this sadness for what happened that day. Sitting there watching CNN while having my morning coffee without a care in the world, only to have it all unfold in front of me - live and on camera, as it happened.
I surround myself with the armor that is my friends and with Daniel, who is becoming a main source of strength and comfort to me.
All that any of us can do is to seek out the things we are a part of each day and measure what is important and what is petty, and use that as a gauge to see how many things we take for granted each day by wasing our energies on the wrong things.