Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Love

Like billions of people around the world, I didn't know, ten years ago on this day what the skies held. I didn't know what sorrow and heartache was unfolding on the other side of the continent.

My day began like any other.

I awoke. Fed the dog. Took her for a walk. I readied myself for work, woke my daughters. Like every other school morning, I had to coerce and cajole them into getting up for school. My worries were of the normal kind. Would they eat the lunches I had made? Did they have their homework done. Did they brush their teeth? Did I lock the door when we left? Turn off the iron before going out? Normal threads of a normal life. Little worries that didn't add up to much more than a blip on the radar of my life unfolding before me.

I dropped the girls at their schools, drove into my parking spot at work, got into the elevator, pressed the button for the eighth floor. A co-worker got on at the first floor. He was vibrating with the news. "Isn't it awful," he said.

I remember wondering what he meant. It was a gorgeous fall morning. Not a cloud in the sky. Clear skies for as far as you could see.

"What's that?" I asked.

"New York." he replied.

I hadn't listened to the news yet. The girls were abuzz with first week back at school news as we drove. I hadn't listened to the news.

And then he told me.

I thought he was joking.

Another woman got on the elevator.

"It's true," she whispered. "It's true."

How could such a thing be true, I wondered.

I got to my office. No one was working. Everyone was gathered in the boardroom watching the TV. They were showing the footage of the first jet hitting the Tower.

It felt so surreal. So unreal. So unbelievable.

Everyone was scared. Worried. Unsure of what to do. What would ensue from such devastation.

Several people left. They wanted to reassure themselves their families were okay.

I asked my boss if I could leave too. I wanted to get my daughters at school and hold them close.

"Go," he said. "Go. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?"

My youngest daughters Junior High was just across the street from the office building where I worked. I walked out into the bright morning sun. Felt its welcoming warmth and still I was chilled.

I got to the school. Other mothers and fathers were already there to see their children.

Liseanne came to the office and I asked if she wanted to come out with me for the day. Eager for any opportunity to miss religion class she quickly said, "Yes!"

We walked over to Alexis' high school down the street and spoke with her. She wanted to stay in class. "We're talking about it here," she said. "I'm okay."

The three of us hugged and Liseanne and I left.

A girlfriend called me on my cell. "Have you heard?"

"Yes," I replied. "I've just picked Liseanne up from school We're going to spend the day together."

"I can't leave work," my friend replied. "Would you be willing to pick up my son at school? I'd rather he was with you."

And so the three of us set out to spend the day together. Another young friend, the son of my girlfriend's son, joined us as well. I don't remember where we went for lunch. We did go to the zoo for awhile. We wandered amidst the animals and flowers and trees, the sun streaming down, the birds cawing and snakes slithering and for awhile the world felt normal. Sane. And then, in the afternoon, we went to a movie.

A silly choice on my part. Some Jackie Chen, the world is ending if we don't stop the evil perpetrators, kind of film. Cars exploding. Gunshots firing. It didn't seem appropriate on such a day. But the kids loved it. Thought it was funny and cool. And it was a good diversion from the news coming out of New York and Pittsburgh and Washington. It was an escape from reality.

And when we got home, I turned on the TV and quickly turned it off. I couldn't stop watching. I had to stop watching. I didn't want to embed the images of the Twin Towers crumbling, of the Pentagon smoking or the giant pit in a cornfield smouldering in my daughters minds. Or mine.

I turned off the TV and still the images, the thoughts, the fears remained.

They are still there. Somewhere on the periphery of reality. Still there silently smouldering.

This is a fragile world we live in. A place of great beauty. Great joy. Great possibility. And great devastation too. A place where love walks hand in hand with hate. Where possibility slides up against the impossible and explodes in front of our eyes reminding us that war and hatred do exist and have the power to destroy buildings and lives.

But never love.

We went to a play last night, C.C., Alexis, myself and a friend of Alexis'. Part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival, the particular show we went to was in celebration of 50 years of Amnesty International. In the last act, a play about intolerance, and bullying, and discrimination, a priest says after the brutal death of a young girl at the hands of a school friend spurred on by parents fears of her 'difference', "It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to kill a child too."

It takes a handful of men to raise up a building of steel and concrete.

It takes a handful of men to destroy it. To drop bombs. To kill eachother.

It takes a world of love to create peace.

Let us share love today. Let us commit to creating peace.



Maureen said...

Someone tried to calculate the physical costs - $3.3+ trillion. From that day until now and as it continues tomorrow, the cost in lives cannot be calculated. And worse, no one knows all the names.

I used to think the assassination of JFK was my generation's defining moment; then the murders of MLK and RFK; now September 11. All of these are. They're as black as the smoke I saw rising from the Pentagon, not far from where I live, after I finally made my way out of D.C. and across Key Bridge. What they represent is loss as deep as what the planes created that day. The holes never get filled in. Somehow our hearts still beat.

Louise Gallagher said...

yes Maureen. Somehow our hearts still beat.

And somehow, they must beat louder than the thunder of pain and hatred and fear that rained down on that day so that the cost in lives doesn't cost us the world.

Hugs my friend.

Claudia said...

it takes a world of love to create true..thanks for sharing this day with us louise. you may could link up with dVerse if you like..?

Anonymous said...

people try to calculate
and the cost is
no one wants to see
the real cost
for then
they might have to
look to Jesus

Glynn said...

Hope prevails. Because it has to. To abandon hope (as The Inferno suggested) is to embrace barbarism and darkness.

Fi said...

Oh welcome back - I certainly missed you around the blogosphere.

911 did something to all of us - it thrust itself into the middle of our homes and stripped away our trust no matter who we were or where we lived in the world.

The one thing they couldn't do was to take away the strength of the human spirit. Nothing can dim the ability to band together, support each other and grieve as one.

Cost? - there is no measurable cost when innocent lives are lost.

sharmishtha said...

our reaction was same. before i saw the news i could not believe it either.