On September 12
It is just after midnight on September 12, 2013 and I am watching footage of September 11, 2001.
It is hard to explain this dark and voyeuristic ritual on my part, but it is my way of remembering. I don’t always attend a memorial, or watch the news, or journal about it or tell my friends where I was (walking from Geometry to World History in the 9th grade), but I do typically watch some of the news footage from that morning, some of the videos, some of the shaky shots.
It is my way of remembering.
It is my way of grasping at the fragility of humanity and it is my way of trying to understand the loss and the grief and the pain and the suffering of everyone and anyone connected to this tragedy in even the most minute way.
It is my way of grappling with God, of trying to wrestle with someone in whom I believe fiercely; it is my way of stopping to ask Him why? It is my way of feeling like a child again, of feeling like a helpless baby who doesn’t understand the world or the way it works, who has yet to hear that “life isn’t fair” or that “bad things happen to good people.” It is my way of crawling into my fourteen-year-old self and then deeper and still deeper into my five year old self, the self that sat on my mother’s lap as a child and prayed to Jesus because he is so good; isn’t he so good?
It is my way of trying to determine what is good about a God that lets September 11 happen.
It is my way of praying for the families of the victims, for the bombers, for all of the pain and ache and hurt and torment in the world.
It is my way of remembering how much I don’t understand. And so I cry without ceasing. I pray to my God silly, incomprehensible prayers for people who are already dead. I close my eyes when the screen gets too scary. I turn off my computer when the images make me too sad. I curl up in a ball and I sob for those who lost, for those who could not turn of the screen or shut the computer or look away. For those who turned on the news that day and realized that dad was not coming home. For the wives who lost the men they loved that morning. For the parents who realized their son went to work early and for the friends who wondered, what now?
I do not understand my God.
Sometimes, I do not know if I trust my God.
When I cannot stop crying, I do not know and I do not feel how much my God loves me or the people in the planes or the firefighters on the streets or the women and men in the buildings and on the ground and out of the windows and floating through the air and space and time. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know.
I cannot comprehend such massive tragedy. I have read that He can. I have read that He knows. But I do not understand, and I do not know.
But I do understand the way that people come together as one, the way people huddle around after the horrors to hold hands and clutch hearts between their fingertips. I do understand the way people can shake in the arms of one another and pour prayers out of their pursed lips. I do understand the way tears fall on an old t-shirt draped over the shoulder of a friend. I do understand how infinitesimal our lives are despite our human fight to prove otherwise.
I do understand the voice of a mother or a father or sister or brother that whispers, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” I do understand the way it feels on my face after the salt and the sweat and the fear wash away. I do understand the calm after the storm, the way the rain settles on the porch as the dark clouds roll away. I do understand the brightness of the sun. I do understand that nobody is without somebody.
I do understand hope.