Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gratituesday: Emotion

I'm not really sure how to write about how I'm feeling right now, but reading Lizzie's words this morning made think that I need to say something.  She was brave, so I'm trying to be brave, so please try not to judge me on this one.  It's difficult for me because I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to feel, which is making it nearly impossible for me to gauge how I actually feel.  Roger woke me up on Sunday night to tell me that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, and he tells me I responded with "completely indifference" before falling back asleep approximately thirty seconds later.  I'm far from completely indifferent about his death, but I don't feel like celebrating and I don't feel like mourning.  All I felt on Monday morning, after the news really set in, after I saw a policeman hugging a woman in a hajib headscarf, after I read messages from friends across the internet, was sad.

September 11th is something about which I've always felt sad, and worse still, like I had no right to that sadness.  The only real claim I have on grief there is that we were all supposed to go there on a field trip that day, to an arts college fair.  That when I called my grandmother to see if my parents were alright (my mother worked in a hospital in the Bronx and my father was director of programming for the FDNY, and the phone lines were down all over the place), she cried and I hung up on her and also cried, and then spent the night at my best friend's house to avoid being home.  That we talked about it all the time for the rest of the year, using it in lesson plans and at party conversations, until we didn't anymore.

And that's sort of where it happened for me, the moment where we didn't anymore.  It wasn't that I got over it.  But I read an article from one of the children whose parent died in the Challenger disaster, an open letter to all the children who lost parents on September 11th, talking about how a national tragedy ceases to be a personal one, and to stop watching the images that were taking away all of our breaths.  It wasn't my tragedy, it really and truly wasn't, except in the way that it was everybody's tragedy, and I think I've been trying to let it go it ever since, but have mostly just been suppressing it.  I stopped watching news casts about it, didn't see the movie when it came out, and stopped measuring my life and the progression of time by the date. 

I don't think of my fear of heights as stemming from that day, and I don't think of the way I view our wars or our flag or how I feel getting on a plane or walking down Madison Avenue to work as part of it, either.  I've certainly never, ever visited ground zero, and I didn't dance there on Sunday.  But I don't disapprove of the people who did, even a little.  And not being in either of those camps leaves me feeling as much on the outside of it as I ever did, with no right to grief or the sadness or, yes, the terror, I was feeling on that day.  So while I wish I could say that all I'm feeling is grateful for my life, or my freedom, or the sacrifices others have made so I can have both, it's not only that.  I'm feeling grateful, but also like something unidentifiable and unwanted has opened up inside me, and I'm unsure of how to close it again.


  1. I appreciate your bravery. Thank you for sharing. It is an incredibly complicated thing, no?

  2. Beautifully written.