Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Further explanation

A further explanation of my last post (below)

I abhor killing. Lose someone in your life - lose one of your children - and find any other way to think and feel, and I will call you insane. I would love to tell you gently, so that you might accept, that death is a part of life, but to do so would make me a hypocrite - another thing I abhor. Death is always ugly and cruel, if not to those it takes, always to those it leaves behind, dead in their own way, but not quite. Unmercifully un-dead, left only with pain.

You see when I lost my daughter on August 29th 2001, it was not to the violent slashing knife of a killer, not to a bullet, stray or otherwise. It was under the finely honed antiseptic blade of a surgeon's scalpel, and that fact only worked to make it more unthinkable. That my child died at the hands of someone who professed an oath to save her meant that there was no one to blame, no rationale; there was no one to properly be mad at, no one to assign responsibility to.

Two weeks later, the terrorists attacked.

I watched those towers flame and smoke, I watched the people at the windows screaming to be saved, I watched them hurl themselves out in flaming cartwheels, and I thought to myself,

"So what, my daughter is dead, so fucking what."

And I watched the towers collapse and hundreds of people on camera racing at the edge of that white cloud of dust and smoke and human remains - all overcome with some un-nameable terror, and I imagined the pain and fear of those people, the not-yet-dead, entombed under millions of tons of concrete and steel, and I thought to myself,

"So what, my daughter is dead, so fucking what?"

At some later time when my senses came out of the insanity of grief, I watched the replays, read the articles and the poems, saw the pictures and the endless newsreel loops; over and over again - those planes torpedoed the towers, those bodies, now enhanced by computers so that we could see little screaming faces attached to those spiraling arms and legs - and I was ashamed of my selfishness, ashamed that in the moment of actuality, I had been so callous.

And I cried: for having used my daughter's death as my shield to excuse my unfeeling reaction. I cried for the dead, for the families of the dead, for the families who would bury nothing more than a tooth or a hand.

But more than anything I cried for humanity - for all that it would come to accept, even to embrace after these attacks. I cried for the those whose names would be offered up as justification for the retaliation we would seek, and call justice, freedom, peace. I cried for the muslim people in their homelands for the loss of their sons and daughters and mothers and fathers that they would experience during our retaliation.

I cried for innocent who would die at the finely honed antiseptic edge of the military's surgical blade, proffered by those who would profess an oath to save us.


  1. 9/11 came at a time when your plate was already full. It affected all of us in different ways. I wouldn't beat yourself up for your attitude at the time. If you hadn't had that attitude, the whole thing might have sent you over the edge. We do what we can...

  2. A very brave and honest post.

  3. V~ it isn't so much a beating up, as a baring.
    Why? Not really sure, guess I'll never learn when to shut up.

    My opinions aren't always (hell they're rarely) popular, but this is where it all comes from. I've always felt badly about not feeling more at the time. I guess I couldn't get past the purple bloated body of my child in the neonatal cardiac intensive care unit, or the image of her 24" casket. I was just too full of grief to absorb any more.

  4. Thanks for writing this thoughtful and beautful post. Your perspective seems very healthy, especially compared to others who can't seem to let go of their grief and are consumed with their own personal righteousness.

    Rock on, sister!

  5. Wow, that blog is... wow - yeah, anger is a normal, maybe even necessary, part of grief, but one has to get past it or it can eat you alive, turn you into a disheartened bitter human being... That's where the guilt comes from in this post, that somehow at the time I thought my daughter's death justified such an attitude. Someday, hopefully, she'll (the blog owner over there) see that her sister deserves more than just that.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up, love to see new faces around here - hope you'll be back :)

  6. E, I am not saying it's right, but everyone's misery and heartache is graded on a scale of their own best to worst. For some people, getting a flat tire during rush hour might be the worst thing that's ever happened to THEM, and hence it is the worst thing. Others, it's 9/11. It's all subjective. Aside from that, there is empathy and sympathy to help us relate. I don't think poorly of you for being absorbed in Alexis' death -- that was YOUR worst nightmare.