For a brief moment, ten years ago today, the global genetic tapestry was perfectly interwoven in a spirit of loss, love and commitment.
A decade has since elapsed. Families have formed. Babies have taken their first breaths. Children have become adults. Loved ones have passed from our lives.
40 seasons have cycled through in the inevitable march that is time passing like so many trees viewed by the sleepy eyes of a child from the backseat window.
Like a fresh wound in the initial days of recovery, every new sensation in the immediacy of the aftermath was accompanied by pain. A nation was permeated by grief. We huddled together. Seeking solace and relief.
Those who had gazed from formerly untold heights were brought to their knees. Our communities bound together by a singular grief. Never had so many felt so much for those with whom we'd never shared a moment. Let alone loved.
Yet, heroes and victims share that uncommon ability to grab at, if not tear, our heartstrings in unfathomable ways. Both enter our lives as headlines and news quips. Soon inhabiting our psyches like snapshots of lost loved ones. Forcing us to recall all of that which is most sacred about this fragile existence. This precious life.
Clerks. Janitors. Sisters. Salesman. Financiers. Jews. Administrators. Cousins. Catholics. Traders. Runners. Managers. Godparents. Chefs. Children. Applicants. Pilots. Mothers. Executives. Athletes. Sons. Security guards. Stewardesses. Muslims. Brothers. Marketers. Friends. Neighbors. Fathers. And of course, firemen and policemen.
Three thousand Americans who woke on just another Tuesday and went to work. September 11th, 2001. Each began the day as human beings fulfilling whatever roles to which their lives had led them.
By day's end, all of them were gone. As were the innumerable strokes of genius, tender moments, brilliant ideas, hard-fought victories, kind words, commercial achievements, charitable efforts, thoughtful notions, works of art and every other contribution that each of them may have bestowed upon this world.
Never will we understand what was truly lost on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. What may have been gifted to humanity by those three thousand heroes and victims during this passing blink of a moment most of us are gifted enough to experience. To reflect upon. To share.
What is oft forgotten are the incalculable individuals left behind who were in some way affected by the day's events. The immeasurable permutation of loved ones left behind. Forced to gaze upon framed photos of dead friends and relatives. To relive vacations. Recall holidays. And otherwise attempt to make sense of that day's events in a way with which they might live. The friends and family who awoke that Tuesday morning, hundreds, if not thousands of miles from the day's broadcasts. By day's end, they were unwilling protaganists in that terrible drama.
For a brief, tender moment, mankind was enhanced by a sixth sense that enabled us to cope, empathize, philosophize, and perhaps come as close as we can to understanding the universal truth that the world is much too complex to ever truly understand. Nor were we meant to understand it.
Life is but a thin silken strand pulled taught between two points. We travel from one point to the next, never quite aware of how beautiful, how delicate, the strand upon which we travel actually is.
But, if we are able to move forward, to allow moments to become days, months and years, we can cope. If we could see through tears tears, stoically contend with an abject lack of understanding, we can become that which was most necessary at that most difficult time.
Something slightly more human than the disparate individuals we had laid down as on the eve before that tragic day.
We owe it to them. To their loved ones. To all of those who, for a brief respite, brought us together. To those who involuntarily demonstrated to us that life is something for which we must be forever grateful.