September 11, 2006
"Time has gone on, but life hasn't."
Every anniversary of 9/11 brings out different emotions in me. The horror is pretty constant, but my focus over the years has clearly shifted from the how bad must it have been in there for people to have thought their better option was jumping 100 stories to their deaths? to the emotional aftermath. The children, the coworkers, the wives.

Diane Sawyer did a special recently on the widows of 9/11. Apparently they meet once a year to commemorate the day and share coffee and sorrow and new joys with each other. I was struck by how few of these women were remarried or bold enough to bring new significant others into the fold. Those who had found new partners almost seemed apologetic for it, as if finding happiness after such devastation was an act about which one should be ashamed.

But the strongest ache for me on this anniversary is for those widows who cannot seem to move on. For the woman who still has his toothbrush in the bathroom, his coat in the closet with her own. I am in no way judging these women; I have found it excruciatingly painful to move forward from a relationship of only three years. But I am almost in disbelief that the human heart could withstand five years of perpetual mourning. I'm not sure how they do it. And I am not sure how they have enough left of themselves to give to their work, their communities and their children.

On this anniversary, I wish these women peace, and hope that they find a way to allow life, and not just time, to go on.


21 Comments:

Blogger Shawn said...

Thanks for the reminder that for some the pain of that awful day was personal - more personal than most of us can ever imagine.

Blogger 1 peanut said...

Beautiful post

Anonymous Jorge said...

For some the pain is all they have to hold on to, be it for good or for ill.

My heart aches for those who continue to mourn. They will do so for many, many years to come.

But it will help them cope. And then, when the smoke clears from their soul, they will realize how strong they actually are.

My feelings about the event are tainted by the media circus.

That being said, I try to remember the event for the event, and my heart goes out to all the victims of that tragedy.

J

Blogger mrsmogul said...

I still can't believe it's happened. Like a dream. I don;t think the women will ever forget or let go of the pain. I know two friends of friends that died and that effected me deeply even though I never met them.

Blogger dasi said...

My uncle died at 32, not in 9/11, but of a heart infection that claimed his life quite suddenly. He was my mom's youngest brother (out of 11) and his wife never remarried - never even dated again, for that matter. That was twenty years ago.

I can't imagine the perpetual mourning, either. I am with you in wishing all people peace, especially the widows and widowers and children of 9/11... and those like my aunt as well, who choose to never let go instead of moving on.

Blogger Portnoy said...

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.
Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)

As a Jewish hybrid Buddhist I have a Jewish Mother who wouldn't know what to do without her history of hurt. And the woman has suffered. As her son I so wish she could let go and move forward but I know she'd freak out without, at least, one weekly reminder. It breaks my heart to see her so attached to her past but I suppose that's a practice for me to figure out.

No one can know what is in the hearts of those women. One can only pray with the best intentions and act upon them. And one can post such a lovely thought as yours.

Blogger Nancy Drew said...

Lovely post and equally touching comments.

Someone told my mother that it takes about five years to recuperate fully from a divorce. That was my experience too. It might be the same for recovery from widowhood. Am sure that we all know of women who never remarry. It might not be because of the trauma, maybe because they just have not met the right one yet (moving on can be an incredible act of courage). Or may-be, they are mourning, who can read the human heart?

Like you, wish these women, men and children peace and love. Wish their departed and their departed rescuers peace and love. Wish our wounded and healing nation --and world--peace and love from the depth of my heart.

Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

That is so un-Ann Coulter of you. In other words, beautifully put.

Blogger KlevaBich said...

Yes indeed, very un-Ann-Coulter. Can you believe that beeotch? None of us can ever know just EXACTLY what this is like, unless we actually lost a loved one on that day and in one of those places.

And one can only hope that she (ann cooter, as I call her) is afflicted with such heartache in her future, as a lovely lesson in karma.

Anonymous wordgirl said...

I'm afraid I would be one of those who saved the toothbrush. Really afraid. I wish them peace too.

Blogger t2ed said...

I just wish there had been some media coverage of the event. Luckily no one was milking it or anything.

I completely forgot about it and thought it was just another crappy Monday.

And I don't like Mondays.

Anonymous Kristin said...

That was heartfelt. Thanks.

Blogger playfulinnc said...

Letting go of the sorrow is the best thing I think. After someone passes, I believe they would want for the one left behind to be happy.

You can still go on while respecting their memory,

Blogger NewYorkMoments said...

I can't imagine how horrible it is for them. Yes, I agree with you. I wish them peace and the courage to move forward.

Blogger Doc Think said...

Moving forward and mourning our not mutually exclusive. I hope that I never lose my spouse or kids in such an "out of order" way. A beloved friend of ours died in a freak car crash seven years ago and I still can't believe it. It wasn't the way it was supposed to happen.

Peace.

Blogger Egan said...

I guess we all grieve in different ways. I'm with you on this one Kris, but who knows why those spouses feel the way they do. Has it really been five years since that shitty day?

Blogger Janet M. Kincaid said...

It's hard to move on, I think, when there is an inexplicable hole that's been ripped in your heart. Between every beat and every breath is a moment, a space that represents the line between life and death. I think for the survivors, that moment is the place where their life stops and holds. That moment is where perpetual mourning resides.

I grew up in a faith that had lots of answers about why where here and where we're going, particularly after this life. While I find those answers reassuring at times, I also find them woefully inadequate, especially as I get older. While I understand intellectually that those I love are gone, but that I might one day see them or even be with them again, I, nonetheless, long for them to be here with me now, to share in my joys and sorrows now, to know about my life now. While my life moves on, it moves on without them and that is part of my perpetual mourning.

That said, excellent post. Very touching and thought provoking. Thank you.

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