Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years in the Garden of One Thousand Sighs

Eight years ago this morning, in a year when the 11th of September fell on a Tuesday and not a Friday, everything changed. For those of us such as me, fortunate enough to have not lost either a family member or a close friend in the terror attacks upon our country, the events of that morning represented a defining moment. And if you are like me and not old enough to have borne witness to the events immortalized forever on the calendar spots assigned to the 7th of December and the 22nd of November, then you acquired your very own day of infamy. And it is horrible. And it is historical. But if you are like me, then it is not personal.

It is not personal for me - and for you if you are like me - because the searing pain felt by the families of the 343 members of the FDNY, the families of the 72 police officers and the families of all of those killed inside of the Twin Towers, inside of one of the four hijacked planes and at the Pentagon belongs to them. They mourn today what they have mourned every day for the past eight years - the death of a loved one. It is a loss that, unfortunately, trumps and shall continue to trump the loss of an ideal or the loss of innocence common to all of the rest of us.

There will be moments of silence observed today for those who were murdered on September 11, 2001 and perhaps after those moments pass or, maybe, perhaps not until the dawn breaks tomorrow, all of us will remember where we were, who we were with and what we were doing on that most horrible of mornings. And we will think of those who were killed and those who they left behind to carry on without them and then we will be permitted to carry on with the rest of our day.

For all of those for whom the loss was not national, but personal and for whom the attack occurred not within our nation's borders but within the four walls of a home, today is the starkest annual reminder of what they have lost in a calendar cluttered with them in the form of a birthday,an anniversary, a graduation, a bar mitzvah, a baptism, a wedding and events and occasions of all shapes and sizes. All they lost was all that they had.

I likely mentioned this here - in this very space - last year but the single most beautiful piece of music that I have heard, which the events of that ugly morning eight years ago inspired, is "If This Is Goodbye". It is a piece that Mark Knopfler wrote after seeing the TV news reports and reading the newspaper accounts of those people trapped in the Twin Towers taking the time in the final moments of their lives to call their spouses, parents, siblings and children to tell them they loved them one final time. And to tell them goodbye.

My famous last words
Are laying around in tatters
Sounding absurd
Whatever I try
But I love you
And that's all that really matters
If this is goodbye
If this is goodbye

Your bright shining sun
Would light up the way before me
You were the one
Made me feel I could fly
And I love you
Whatever is waiting for me
If this is goodbye
If this is goodbye
Who knows how long we've got
Or what were made out of
Who knows if there's a plan or not
There is our love
I know there is our love
My famous last words
Could never tell the story
Spinning unheard
In the dark of the sky
But I love you
And this is our glory
If this is goodbye

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