Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11

It is Day 19. I woke up early this morning to watch the ceremony from New York. To listen to names and drumbeats. It is unbelievable that it's been ten years.

On September 11, 2001, I was packing for a funeral out of town - my husband's best friend's father had just died. We were going to the visitation that night, and the funeral the next morning.

In my suitcase, I was tucking away little plastic bottles or even hairspray bottles full of wine so that I would have enough to drink for the trip. I always brought extra wine with me wherever I went and I'd snap at my husband if he went anywhere near my luggage.

At 9:15 he called me from work and told me to turn on the TV. My life - like countless others - changed so dramatically that day. I screamed out loud when I saw the flames on the WTC. I would cry every day for six weeks.

But we had to leave the city for that funeral - regardless that the world was ending. We got in the car and headed out of town, the sky so eerily quiet because there were no planes up there anymore. Not for ten thousand miles.

When we went to the service it was strange because the family was so unmoved by what had happened that morning. They were living their own 9/11.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night at my in-law's house. It was so dark and still and quiet. I remember never being so scared or sad in my life. And, for me, that's saying something.

The morning of 9/12 we went to the service in a beautiful old cathedral. There were priests and bishops and clergymen in robes and tall white hats. It was a grand ceremony. As it turns out, the man who died was a recovering alcoholic. A member of A.A. for many years. He had discovered God late in life and as a consequence that church was full of other A.A. members. The priests kept referring to sin and redemption. They kept obliquely referring to the evils of alcohol.

I cried so hard in the church that day. People had to hand me Kleenexes. I cried for my husband's friend's dad. I cried for all those people who had lost their lives. I cried for myself. The funeral of an A.A. member is not the place to be the day after 9/11 ... not when you have an Evian bottle filled with wine in your purse.

That was exactly ten years ago. I was still two years away from taking my first long cleanse. Things were going to get worse before they got better for me.

Of course - 9/11 was not about my drinking problem. It was about something that involves all of us somehow, though maybe we're still trying to figure that out.

I write poetry when regular prose or journal entries just aren't "emotional" enough to make me feel better. I wrote several of them in the wake of 9/11. This is one of them.

Heroes

I don't know how they do it.
I don't know what dreams they must have
At night.
Or what they think about
Arms aching, mouths covered,
Feet in boots given by a stranger.

I don't know what they talk about
Over lunch.
Or drinks after work.
Maybe they don't have lunch.
Or drinks after work.
I don't know how they do it.
But I love them for it.
I have never seen soldiers
Braver or stronger or better trained

Than these men in face masks
And t-shirts and big boots.
I turned on the news this morning
And se ethey have a sunny day
(not too hot, I hope)
Raining here, but sun there.
Bright shadows across the ruins
And I am relieved
Because it breaks my heart
To see them working in the rain.

If any number of us
Can have just one ounce
Of what these men tirelessly display
We will get through this
Stronger, deeper, a little wiser
Braver, smarter and full of hope.
Soldiers all of them
Fighting for freedom
And those who fell
Like soldiers, fell for us all.

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