September 12, 2009

The Day After

Where’s Terry? Must be doing press for his upcoming film with Jennifer Aniston!

Last night, I was flipping channels and ran across the History Channel’s “102 Minutes that Changed America”. It was footage and sound files of the 9/11 attacks as they happened. I shouldn’t have watched it. I knew it but I did anyway. It was like reliving a nightmare.

We all remember were we were when it happened. I remember because I was embroiled in a lie at the time. On 9/11, I overslept and wanted to go to the gym before work. I usually went every day but because I got up late, I should’ve just gone to work. I wanted to work out so I called work and lied. I said I forgot I had an early a.m. dentist appointment and would be in around 10.

After I was done at the gym, I went home and hung around waiting for the next bus. I turned on my computer; CNN was my homepage; it was about 9:00 a.m. CT. The lead story on the page was about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I thought it was a joke and someone had hacked the site. I turned on the TV and we all know what we saw then. I worked in a tower in downtown Minneapolis then and had no desire to go to work. I didn’t have to. The office decided to close. No one was working; everyone was watching TV. Everyone was too scared to be there.

So, I lied, with no remorse, no confession, no absolution. In 2001, I was not the person I am now. I’m still not the person I should be but I was pretty far away from Christ then. Yes, I went to Church and was involved but my theology (yes it was MINE) was infantile. People talk about “adult Catholicism” and “putting away childish things” like that means running away from the rules “forced” upon you by your church, your parents, your government and just doing whatever you want. Is that what adulthood and maturity really is supposed to be? Acting like a teenager all over again?

I spent the morning of 9/11 glued to the TV. In the afternoon I decided I couldn’t watch it anymore and went out into my yard with the transistor radio and dug out two huge bushes that were dying and set up a garden bed for a total overhaul. It was so quiet. No air traffic. No trains. No kids outside. No one else was home. Apparently, I was the only one in the neighborhood whose office closed.

It’s the Day After that I remember most. 9/12. For those of us who yearn for quiet on public transport, that was the day. No one said a word on the bus. No one spoke. No one looked at each other. It’s like we were all guilty or something. What could anyone say? No one wanted to be there. Everyone wanted to be home with their Mom. That’s what it felt like. You know those times when you feel like a little kid again; unsafe, insecure and you want your Mommy? My Mom never lived to see 9/11. Thank God. One more person for me be afraid for.

I remember going to an ecumenical service at St. Olaf downtown. My co-workers wanted to go to the one in the IDS Center. The impression I got, strongly, was they did not want to go to a Catholic Church for anything. I was offended. I wondered why I was irked since most of the “masses” I attended then were very much like a bland and non-offensive mish-mash to rival any so-called ecumenical service. I thought about that. I wondered why I was upset that someone would insult my Faith when I insulted it every day. Guess it was different when it was me. Like a kid that thumbs its nose at its parents but then is upset when someone else does it.

We all remember the hordes at church in the week or so after 9/11. Where are they now? Some took our leaders at their word and just went on as before: unchanged. Their faith was deepened but it was only temporary. It was an immature love. You know; the kind you have as a teenager that is intense and you are sure will last forever and then 10 years later you can hardly remember his name.

I’m convinced that it’s not so much disaster that defines us; it’s what we do after. Do you rise or do you fall? It’s not the day of, it’s the day after. Good Friday was pivotal but it was Easter Sunday that really mattered.

I think about the Falling Man of 9/11- the man who jumped from one of the towers. Someone made a short film about that where an actor dressed as Falling Man rises up the side of the tower. Not falling but rising.

There’s so much I’m ashamed of. Many of us could probably say the same thing. Who were you then and who are you now? I could wallow in my lies and mistakes or I can Confess them, admit them, ask to be forgiven from them and rise.

The day of the sin is bad but what do you do the next day?


Blogger Adoro said...

9/12 was hard for us, too. We all returned to training, knowing we were training for our deaths, not knowing if the attacks were over.

WE watched the men and women jumping from the Towers the day before. We knew what the firefighters had been doing.

It was a quiet day for us, too. sober, solemn, serious.

Our training changed completely. Not the syllabus, but the depth of meaning.

September 12, 2009 10:54 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

As you know I am Canadian with deep roots in New York. My dad and stepmom met in the WTC in the mid 1970s when they both worked there and in 1995 my dad died on Sept 11.

Sept 11, 2001 and the days after are just a mishmash of feelings and it is hard to separate what is what.

All I know is that I watched the news practically 24/7 for 3 weeks after this (and I normally avoid the news) and I was SO ANGRY at those who flew the planes because they took my private day of mourning and turned it public. They took the memories of my visits to the WTC as a child, my birthday lunch at Windows on the World, my own visit with my own children and they turned into twisted, weird memories. I can barely look at photos of my kids on the observation deck.

Lord, have mercy on us all.

September 12, 2009 11:13 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro and Angela: Thank you for sharing these powerful memories.

September 13, 2009 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Macabeus said...


September 13, 2009 4:33 PM  
Anonymous L. said...

Unfortunately, the passing of time has faded the memories for a lot of people...I too watched the same show on History Ch. and it brought back all of the emotions once again. May God bless our country and keep all soldiers who fight for our freedom safe!

September 14, 2009 10:55 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I'm back.

September 14, 2009 10:36 PM  

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