Many of us that experienced September 11th on a personal level know exactly what we were doing and where we were before 8:46 a.m. For us, there is 9/11/01 and then there is 9/11/01-8:46. It’s as simple as that. Before that hour began we were living in a world where we knew there was danger but somehow we still felt safe. I have forgotten how safe feels.
Many of us live with that horror to this very day and I suspect for many more years to come. And when we come across someone who has a personal 9/11 story, we stop, we listen and we connect. We have become members of a club we never asked to be a part of. That’s the way it is so we make the best of it.
Then there are those that for some reason want to be connected to the 9/11 story. And to that I say, “Take my story if it’ll make you feel relevant.”
I don’t quite know why people do this but when I’m a witness to it, I have to bite my tongue because the things that I want to say would probably cause a more difficult situation that quite honestly is so not worth it. But I always walk away asking myself, “WHY?”
Did you see the horror personally?
Did you go there and hold people as they fought thru their tears?
Did you lose a personal friend? Not someone who knows someone, but a personal friend? Someone you saw regularly, someone you had a connection with?
Did you begin to have nightmares after 9/11? Do you count down the days every year until September 11 arrives?
Did you put up your Christmas decorations, three months after 9/11? Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Did you feel any guilt listening to holiday music that first year?
Where you there?
Do you shudder every time you see an airplane? Do you think it’s too low, too close? Do you wonder when you go away, if the plane you are on will be the one hijacked that day?
When you take the train, do you wonder if that’s the day a gunman will spray the car you are in killing everyone? Do you panic every time you hear of another shooting, another bombing, another beheading?
Those that don’t get this tell those of us that do, to get over it. But we lived it so how does one get over it? How does one move on when a sound, a word, a picture triggers fear within us?
Are you ill? Do you know someone who is sick because of the toxins they breathed in on that day and thereafter? Have you seen someone you know, someone you love, turn into bones because of the illnesses they have poisoning their bodies?
I know how my story will end. My husband knows how his will end. Our daughter wonders which one of her parents will die first and which one she’ll have to care for after. Do you experience that?
If you haven’t, count your blessings.
If you haven’t, embrace those around you that are healthy.
If you haven’t, then don’t judge those of us who have and can’t seem to get past something because of a trigger.
If you haven’t, don’t think for one minute because you know about September 11th, 2001 that you are entitled to use the 9/11 card.
Those of us who lived it, don’t use it. You shouldn’t either. And shame on you if you do.
9/11 doesn’t define us, we define 9/11.
This is for all my brothers and sisters who live with this every single day of your life. We stand together because together we are stronger. May you find peace in your day today. May the next few weeks be kind to you.
It’s been an honor and a privilege to know you.