As we creep up on the tenth anniversary of September 11, I find myself wanting to remember, but also wanting to forget. The pain of that awful day has dulled over the years but like most bad memories, I remember it all too well. I cried every day for two weeks. Seriously, at least once a day. I try not to cry these days so much. Life is short and laughter is better. But I remember telling my mother on the telephone that I was pretty sure I was done crying after two weeks. I wasn’t but I wanted to be.
But we must remember those we lost. I didn’t know any of them personally but I read about them and their loved ones. I remember (and re-read) Ian McEwan’s editorial in the days after 9/11, that only the victims’ love for their families stood between them and their certain deaths. That still breaks my heart. In the years since I have lost my own loved ones through less violent but hardly less tragic means. I’m sure we all have, and we all know the horrible emptiness that happens with loss.
Sometimes I wonder what we’ve learned since the tragic day ten years ago. How to line up at airports, how to be afraid, how to be manipulated to fear by well-meaning people, how to go to war, how to hate? If we learn one thing, let us learn how not to hate, but how to love. Our ride around the sun is limited but shouldn’t be shortened by the hatred of others. As the Buddhists say, especially when faced with someone annoying, bothersome, stupid, or vile: Patience. Tolerance. Compassion.
I’m making it my mantra for the next ten years.