For the past few months, I had been planning to write in honor of the anniversary of September 11. I even physically scheduled it on my calendar. This memoir had, for all intents and purposes, been percolating in my mind for years, was on the very tip of my tongue for years. For as long as I can remember, I’d close my eyes and see exactly what I wanted to express and how I would express it. The weight of ten years would finally be released, no longer rattling around inside, and I would be free. And never, for a single moment, had I ever thought differently.
When the time arrived to sit down and write, I had tremendous difficulty doing so. I wrote a paragraph, then began a new one, then deleted the first one, then deleted all of it and started over again. I told myself I was distracted, not awake enough, preoccupied. Truth was, I distracted myself with Twitter, Pinterest, planning an overnight getaway for myself and my husband, cleaning two bathrooms, and changing sheets.
So I’d get back to it.
But getting back to it simply was not happening. It just did not feel right. So I decided to let it lie for a bit longer. Perhaps it still needed to marinate. I’d spend a night out at dinner with my family. Start fresh in the morning.
Then I realized, in a breathtaking moment of crystal-clear insight, as inspecting my face in the bathroom mirror, I hadn’t yet written anything because I didn’t want to. I was completely taken aback. I felt as if my own heart was betraying me. I stood there for a moment, arguing silently with myself about why that couldn’t possibly be true, my logic wrestling my emotion to the floor.
Surely I wanted to talk about how gut-wrenching it was to watch the second plane fly into the other tower on live television, as ash covered, petrified zombies dove like rats from a sinking ship, and the crippling months of despair that followed. Surely I wanted to talk about the emptiness, the fear, the depression. Surely I wanted to talk about that one moment in time I felt truly connected with my fellow Americans. Surely I did. For ten years. Didn’t I?
Why now was I chickening out? Why now was I doubling back? What was wrong with me?
Not a moment later, a peaceful smile spread across my face. It was then I realized, truly realized, that no matter what I (or we) do to memorialize, commemorate, celebrate, or mourn, the memory will remain inside us all forever. It has changed us forever. And no amount of running screaming down Memory Lane is going to salve the wounds we’ve collectively suffered.
I was finally at peace. Because I know that no matter how eloquently or thoroughly I describe what happened that day, you will understand, and we will Never Forget.