Thursday, September 13, 2012

Maternal Instinct

This Missus and I spent a portion of our Tuesday evening at Victor Crowell Park attending our little town's September 11th Remembrance/Memorial Ceremony.  Middlesex Borough lost one of its own on September 11, 2001 when Thomas Gorman, a member of the PAPD's Emergency Services Unit, died while helping others to safety.   A couple of years after his death, a Memorial was erected in his honor and in his memory at Victor Crowell Park, which Memorial I try to make a point of running by as often as I can.   On Christmas Day 2009 I took this photo of it - against a gun-metal gray sky and with snow on the ground - as Rosie and I were out for a walk. 

Ours is a small town so certain things - such as ceremonies honoring those who died saving the lives of others - do not necessarily go as "pitch perfect" as those one might be used to seeing from Ground Zero or the Pentagon.   Suffice it to say, Tuesday night was no exception to that rule.  However, what our little town's ceremony had going for it was the presence of Theresa Gorman.  Eleven years ago, Mrs. Gorman received a combination platter of news that is as hard to swallow today as it was then.  Her two sons, John and Thomas, were both at the World Trade Center that terrible Tuesday morning.  She was elated to learn that John made it out safe and sound.  She was crushed to learn that Thomas had not. 

Tuesday evening Theresa Gorman stood at the microphone before the couple of hundred persons gathered there and in less than two minutes reminded me - and hopefully all of those in attendance - precisely why we should never and shall never forget the events of that day.  She thanked everyone for coming to honor those who died that day - including her son.  She talked briefly about how much she loved him.  She said a few words about how raw she still feels and how hard the pain is still.  And then she stopped talking.  She could not say another word.  She started to cry and without saying anything further she stepped away from the microphone and over to where her family was standing, including her great-grandchild. 

For a few moments thereafter no one spoke.  No one made a sound.  Hers should have been the final words spoken that evening in fact.  In saying the few words she did, she communicated all that needed to be communicated.  And she did it with grace and composure and strength that brought a lump to my throat. 

She reminded us - without having to say so directly - that all any of us has to do who did not lose one we love on that terrible day is keep a little piece of September 11, 2001 in our minds and in our hearts as we live our day-to-day.  Just a small sliver.  Nothing more.  And she reminded us - again without even saying a word - of how much less our burden is than is hers and that of her family.  For her, much more than a little piece of September 11, 2001 occupies a piece of her heart and a piece of her mind.  Inasmuch as it is there where a piece of her memory of her beloved son resides also, it is a burden that she shall carry with her for all of the days of her life. 

And she shall do so without complaint.  No surprise there.  It is, after all, the way of the mother.  


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