I purposely didn’t write this for publication on 9/11. Because we’re all reminded of what happened on that day. We certainly remember it every year on that date. At least those of us who were adults, teenagers, and old enough to watch it unfold before our very eyes.
Almost 3,000 people died suddenly that day. Almost 3,000 people who had waked up that day, prepared for their daily routines and most likely their plans for after work.
And suddenly, within hours, those plans were gone. Because they were, too.
Families were destroyed, never to recover again. Our nation would never be the same again.
Yes, that day was one we should never forget.
But what about the day after?
Because today is the day after 9/11/2001.
That day, most of us went back to our daily lives. Yes, we were still shaken, still in disbelief. We were still thinking about all the lives lost, wondering what, if anything, would happen next. Yes, we kept seeing the pictures on tv, but a lot of them were re-runs of what had happened.
We’d already seen those pictures several times, and already we were getting a little tired of them. After all, we’d already seen, heard about it. And already our initial fears were starting to subside.
That was for those of us who weren’t directly affected. Because it hadn’t actually touched US.
Where we live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia we were a bit more watchful, as this is home to the world’s largest conglomeration of naval bases. Many of friends and neighbors, their families, worked there or were in the military. And we were concerned about them, and for ourselves.
But our day after 9/11 was mostly back to our normal work lives, our normal after work and/or after school activities, with a bit of sadness and apprehension thrown in. But we still had our loved ones.
The day after 9/11 for those personally affected was a continuation of the vast horror that had been inflicted upon them.
It was a realization that no matter what happened from that day forward, their lives would never ever be the same. No amount of time would ever be able to make them forget; to make the horror and anguish disappear.
Nothing could ever make it go away, or make things right again.
The weddings that had been planned would never take place.
The birthday parties that were planned would never be celebrated.
The babies who were waiting to be born died along with their mothers. And fathers who were anticipating the birth of their children would never be there to meet them.
Children would grow up without one or maybe both of their parents.
Thousands of funerals would have to be planned. And attended. And most likely no one knew where to start…
Life for those left behind would continue, but in a new, frightening, and uncertain way. Those left behind were most likely totally unprepared for what they needed to do. Just the sheer stress of dealing with such a horrific death of a loved one, not to
mention the hundreds of details involved in the necessary tasks of finances, insurance, closing apartments and homes….overwhelming doesn’t begin to describe it.
Then there was the wondering of what actually happened to their loved ones in those final seconds. Did they know what was happening? Did they have time to think? Some were fortunate enough to receive a last phone call. Most weren’t. And they are still left to wonder about the unimaginable.
They just wanted to go back in time to 9/10/2001. And let time stop.
But it doesn’t work like that. Unfortunately. Because reality intervenes.
We all remember the haunting photos of the buildings being hit, crumbling down. The wreckage of a plane in a Pennsylvania field. A gaping hole in the Pentagon.
But I also remember the faces of those desperately searching for a loved one who may have somehow made it, hope quickly fading as realization set in.
And the pictures of loved ones plastered on fences, light poles, building walls; the flowers and notes; a grim reminder of the lost.
So today, the day after the remembering of 9/11, let’s remember what so many were going through that day AFTER 9/11. And are still going through; still remembering.
They deserve to stay in our hearts as well. Because for them, the horror will never be far away.
We remember what happened, but we should also never forget those who were left behind to carry on by themselves.
Do you agree?