BY JEFF SINCLAIR
I write this now on the eve of the anniversary of the most terrifying day in recent North American history.
Eerily, it seems I’m revisiting the memories in perfect detail; the shock, the numb sensation that washed over me when I stood there that morning, gazing at the television.
It’s funny, how on an anniversary we’re suddenly capable of bringing those feelings we once experienced so fully to the surface. It’s also unfortunate in a way, that we have to recognize anniversaries like these.
This isn’t a celebratory anniversary. This is an anniversary of terror.
Sitting here, I’m replaying the events in my mind: waking up, going about the house to prepare for classes, and then suddenly being called to the family room by my mother, who was already seated in front of the television in a daze.
I’m not sure I could accurately describe the sensations I experienced while watching CNN, listening to the rapid-fire reports coming in one after the other. Many people describe the first viewing as something similar to watching a movie. You know the kind–the gratuitous violence, the smoke, the explosions, the screaming people fleeing for their lives. Even as I write this it sounds cinematic, and that’s what made it so horrific I suppose. That it was indeed real, and yet, larger than life.
That day I came to know more than what it was like to watch something so indescribable unfold before me. I came to know what it was like to worry about a loved one who could very well have been immersed in that tragedy.
It didn’t even cross my mind really, that my uncle Ronald worked in that part of Manhattan until I saw the footage of the people running through the streets trying to escape the quickly collapsing towers and falling debris.
We all felt helpless in this situation we found ourselves in. Phone calls yielded busy signals or no answer, and throughout the day my family was glued to the family room television, the phone in arm’s reach. ”
Almost two days later, when we finally got in touch with a New York family member, therewas a collective sigh of relief as we were notified that my uncle was safe. I began to think about the many people who were getting different news; that their loved ones had been lost in the chaos.
For those of us who were far away from Manhattan on that fateful day, it’s easy to bypass the horror of the situation.
After all, we are only human beings, and being somewhat frail emotionally, we try to forget or at least put a damper on our senses. If we didn’t, we’d all be making ourselves sick with worry and stress.
I was able to keep the events at a distance even as they unfolded live on the television, but I found myself completely immersed in the ordeal when I thought of my uncle.
It’s important, and above all, to be respectful, to reflect on that day this month thinking about the people who died. We need to also take a time-out to put ourselves in the shoes of those loved ones the departed left behind.
Terrorism occurs around the world daily and we shrug it off. It’s when your family is involved that the horror really becomes vivid.