Saturday, July 24, 2004

9-11 Victims Relatives


Never forget


Patrick at Patrick's Place [see Other Journals] suggests that the relatives of the 9-11 victims might want to get on with their lives. Especially regarding their need to assign blame for the event. And their disappointment with the 9-11 Commission's failure to do that.

He acknowledges that his position may not be mine or yours. And I can certainly understand his feelings. 

But I suggest they are the feelings of someone who didn't lose any friends or family that day. With my apologies, if I'm wrong.

Sitting here in the midwest I didn't really expect to know people at Ground Zero.  Turns out that the brother of a good friend worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.  He left a wife and two small children. He also left parents, several brothers and sisters, and many nieces and nephews.

I didn't know him personally, but as I read his sister's emails about him, along with his obituary in the paper, I felt a tremendous sense of frustration and anger over the complete stupidity of his death.  

On reflection I began to wonder how many other people from 9-11 I might be connected to. And it didn't take long to decide I didn't want to find out. But I still needed to do something. I just didn't know what.

After the Oklahoma bombing, which happened on a close friend's birthday, I wanted to remember that day -- April 19th.  It was such a horrible event I felt a need to commemorate it with something positive.

I also wanted to separate the sadness and horror from the happy occasion of my friend's birthday.

What could I do that would remind me each year of what happened to all those people, especially the little children, in a way that would encourage a moment of reflection?

Soon afterward, the news began showing people wearing yellow and blue ribbons as a memorial to the ones who were lost. 

The ribbons reminded me of a little blue and yellow flower my mother used to plant in her garden. She liked it because it was so persistent and didn't need much encouragement to grow. It was also my college sorority's adopted flower. I had used it in my wedding bouquet for something blue.

The flower itself was so very tiny you might pass it by, but Mother Nature made sure it usually bloomed in big bunches to get your attention. 

Ironically, it has a most appropriate name:  Forget-me-not. 

A few days after the bombing I planted a packet of Forget-me-not seeds in my yard as a remembrance of the bombing in 1995.  I even thought the folks in Oklahoma City should plant an entire field of Forget-me-nots on the site where the building stood. Regardless, my yard provided a great alternative for me.

All these years later, the Forget-me-nots keep coming up each spring. Not necessarily in the same place, because the wind and the winter tend to scatter the seeds. And not usually in April either, because it's still pretty chilly here. But they always return.

I'll be out walking about checking what's coming up and I'll see a bunch of those tiny blue and yellow flowers, their blooms bobbing back and forth in the breeze, like little children playing. Each time, I'm genuinely surprised to find them. And always, I remember.

So with the idea of remembrance in mind, I wanted to do something for 9-11. Not something for the world, but for me.

The New York Times wrote wonderful obituaries about everyone who died that day. You really got to know something special about each person. So I read through dozens of these beautifully written stories and picked out twenty people:  Firemen, policemen, pilots, children, old people, heroic people on the planes, people who worked in the buildings. And my friend's brother.

Then I went to a jeweler and bought a silver bracelet and several silver disks.The names I had chosen were engraved on the disks and attached to the bracelet.  As the cost crept past $400, I began to wonder what I was thinking. But I kept saying to myself this wasn't about the money.

My plan was to wear the bracelet and explain why I created it. If anyone were to ask, I could tell them about my friend's brother so his life would be remembered by people who never knew he existed.

Then karma kicked in. I decided to attend a four day spirituality seminar that began a couple of days after Christmas and ended on New Year's Eve. 

As part of the experience, we were asked to bring something we would be willing to part with to help someone else on their spiritual journey.

Immediately, I felt I should bring the bracelet to the seminar and give it away. 

For awhile I basked in this altruistic, zen moment, reveling in my ability to let go. However, I kept having nagging thoughts about all the money I'd spent.

No wonder, when I left for the seminar, I forgot to pack the bracelet. That's when I realized that my financial moment had sucker punched my zen moment. 

But I managed to get a grip and called a friend to go into my house, find the bracelet, and Fedex it to me.

When the bracelet arrived, a day late, I offered it to the group with a suggestion -- that whoever took it would keep it for awhile, then add a disk and give it to someone else. To give to someone else.  To give to someone else.

That way each person in turn could remember 9-11 with a small, yet beautiful reminder of some of the people who died.

A Native American woman chose the bracelet. And that was the last I have seen or heard about it.

Three years have passed. I have no clue where the bracelet is.  On her wrist?  Sold on eBay? Given to a friend or loved one? It doesn't matter.

What mattered to me was the power of the idea. I'm happy that I let it take the form of a bracelet.

In fact, for me, what matters most about the people who died on 9-11 is that those of us who live continue to find ways to remember them.

-- Mrs. Linklater













1 comment:

my78novata said...

What a special thing for you to do. So creative an idea. Lori