Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lone Callery Pear

I've written and erased this post so many times, I feel like there are dozens of old posts shining through this one like weary faces of pentimenti. I don't know why I can't get it out, or if I'll hit the post button before I go to bed, or this will be just another layer, but here goes.
What I'm afraid of writing is what I see every year - hollow, trite expressions of grief, or silence, or nothing. What I want to do is write something down so that Sam and Lily know who I was, and what I felt... but I'm afraid, every time I start this, that it'll never be quite right. More than afraid. I know. It will never be right.
What they're already learning in school is what happened, from 8:46 on... and some day I'll tell them where I was and what I was doing, what I saw and felt, and everything they won't write down in a textbook.
What I want them to know, if they do read this years from now, is that I was sitting in a dark grey hand-me-down desk chair with a faded tweed seat when I disconnected from our dial-up internet service and the phone started ringing. I wheeled the chair from our spare bedroom in the southeast corner of our second floor apartment into the living room without getting up, and turned the TV on when there was only one tower left standing, and watched, all the while thinking "I could have sworn there were two", until the other one fell and I understood. I took calls, mostly from Sara trying to find a way home; and made them, trying to find everyone else. Sara walked toward home, and found a bus that covered most of the 18 miles between here and there, and after a while, everyone I was looking for made it home too. The TV was on and I didn't turn it off for days and days, I don't know why. I watched all day, and kept it on while I slept, left it on when I went out of the house and saw every unedited bit.
We left the house on the 12th, went to Valley Forge park under eerily quiet skies, and climbed to the top of Mount Joy without seeing another soul. I wrote in the trail book at the top with a blue ball point pen that had lost it's top, in small enough print to leave years of empty space for others to fill, and we went home.
What they should know, is that even though I found everyone, I was broken. I had a freedom and safety in my heart that I have never felt since, and the intensity with which I watch over them was made, in part, by that day. Eleven years have gone by since then, we've had two kids and watched them grow before our eyes. I've lost friends and dogs, spent money, gotten drunk, made coffee, taken long meaningless walks, and made life changing decisions. But still, I dread this anniversary with all my heart because I can't shake the feeling of helplessness that creeps back into me, and I'm not sure it will ever leave. So I wanted to write this to get it out of my system, and so they know. Hopefully they'll be a time when I can find a way to write something a little better than this, but for now, this will have to do.
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