Sunday, September 11, 2011

May 4, 2001

I could tell you again how I was home on 9/11 and heard about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center from a friend's instant message. Not much of a story, nothing compared to what others went through that day. How can I relate?

My memories of before 9/11 are hopelessly gilded. I felt so safe here in the U.S. I will never feel that safe again. You can tell me it's for the better; I ought to be aware of what could happen. I can't dispute that, but don't we all want that feeling of safety back?

Here's how I relate. Four months and one week before 9/11, my father died from a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. It had weakened him over several months, to the point he'd never again be the symbol of steadfastness and strength he was. I had come to terms with his death, realizing it was the end of his pain we had all prayed for, but it still hit me hard when it actually happened:


rattles through his lungs
hissing like fizz from a can
deafening, echoing
'til the only thing
I want to hear
is the ticking of his watch.

--Gerald So

I remember thinking no one else's death would hit this hard, make me cry this much:


I wanted my father's
funeral to end,
so I could go home
to the rock garden
in our backyard
where he always escaped.

--Gerald So

During the attacks on 9/11 and in the days following, I took solace in the fact I wouldn't lose my father again. He wouldn't see the fear clouding over the country. My memories of him would always be part of that time before, that feeling of safety.

I will never feel that safe again, but I do feel safer now that bin Laden has been eliminated. Threats are still out there and always will be, but bin Laden himself will never attack anyone else. There is and should be a different tone to today's memorials now that the impetus behind the attacks is gone.

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