Forgetting to Remember


It had been quite a while since I had posted anything.  A few ideas had been percolating, but they did not seem at all compelling.  Day after day the word prompts failed to elicit even a bit of interest.  Then on Saturday  I sat down and wrote a trite little piece about the use of words in media.  Not serious, not compelling, pretty unimportant in the scheme of things. It was late in the evening (late for me, anyway).  I originally thought to wait until the next day to read it over and decide if it should be published, but I succumbed to the fear that it had been so long since I had posted anything and if I didn’t hurry up and do something everyone who had ever been kind enough to read my posts would just forget me and never look at my blog again.

So I hit the “Publish” button.  And then went to bed.  When I checked in the next morning, it struck me like a slap in the face.  I published this on September 11??  Yes, according to the WordPress clock, I guess I did.  It seemed horrible to me, that I would post what now seems like a large pile of drivel on the anniversary of such a horrific event.  A hot flash of shame rolled through me.  What was I thinking?  Or, obviously, NOT thinking.

I did not know anyone who died or was injured on 9/11, nor anyone who bravely and willingly walked into that howling void to aid their fellow human beings.  I do not know anyone who 15 years later suffers PTSD, memory loss or physical pain from their experiences on that day.  I was lucky.  My brother and his children had flown from Boston, passengers on one of the last planes to land in DC that day.  A change in timing, a different choice of airport, being slightly early or slightly late, and this day might have become an anniversary of personal horror as it is for so many, rather than a public remembrance that I can choose to observe or carelessly forget.

Grief and loss are part of life.  None of us will escape their sting.  I do not know if it is worse when it comes as a result of the deliberate acts of other human beings, rather than in the natural order of life. I suspect so. And I doubt that neither my remembering or forgetting lightens or deepens the pain that so many bear on this and countless other anniversaries of terror and loss.

I do believe if there is any shred of light that comes out of that dark place, it is this:   the strength of the human spirit, the amazing ability to ignore personal peril to come to the aid of others, and that small and fragile seed of life that can take root in the stump of a dead tree, these are not destroyed by any terrorist or criminal act.

I hope in the end it is this that we remember.



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