Sometimes it feels like it has been decades, at other times it feels like it has merely been years. The vividness of the images that we all witnessed a decade ago is still hauntingly clear. When we chose to lift the bandage and look at the wound, we are sometimes surprised to see how fresh it is – how slowly it has healed. The damage is permanent and while some of us have learned to live with the disfigurement, there are those of us who have grown bitter and spiteful because of it. For those, the attack defined them and they became something different.
I fall somewhere in between those two outcomes. I do not focus on 9/11 with a vengeful malice, but I do recognize that eternal change that was forced upon me. What changed in me that day? Two things that were directly injured – my eyes, and my heart. My eyes saw something that they couldn’t accept, something that they were never meant to see. They are forever damaged and now they don’t work the same way. No matter the therapy, they will see the world differently.
My heart is a different matter. On 9/11, it stopped. The same is true for many of us. There was too much trauma and scarring… Without my knowledge or consent I became the recipient of a heart transplant. The heart I received was the same heart many of you received – that of the nation. When I received this new heart I, for the first time, truly felt at one with the nation that I had been part of. Still, it too was injured and scarred; only it was large enough and strong enough to endure.
A part of me wishes that this 10 year anniversary wasn’t a big deal; that it was just another day in the process of moving on…but that won’t be the case for some of us no matter how much we desire it. This is especially true of the real victims of 9/11 – those who have now been without their loved ones for a decade. Today is just a reminder of how long it has been, and that their spouse, father, sister, etc. is forever gone. It is important to remember them when our new hearts ache on this day because, in fact, it aches for them alone.
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