I remember when I was 10 years ago today and even after all this time it still feels like it should be a scene in a movie and not a memory from my life. I saw the twin towers six months before they burned, six months before the imposing edifice was reduced to so much twisted steel, burning flesh, and pure horror. I met New Yorkers and was welcomed with open arms. I saw their capacity for generosity and love, never dreaming that six months later the world would see their capacity for bravery and selflessness on much greater scale then the small acts of kindness I witnessed on a school field trip that has been laser etched into my memory for the rest of forever.
I have been called brave numerous times in my life. Bravery at least in a manner which I define it, has very little to do with my life. Bravery is deliberately crashing a hijacked plane even when you know you’re going to die in the process. Bravery is being on the other end of those last cell phone calls, knowing that you’ll probably never see your loved one again. Bravery is getting up the morning after you heard “let’s roll” and the cell phone line goes dead and somehow managing to continue.
Bravery is flying halfway across the country with search and rescue dogs to help find people who may not be alive by the time your plane lands. Bravery is continuing the search with dogs who were never meant to be cadaver dogs even when you know that’s all you’ll find now, because it’s been too long for anyone to survive.
Hope is a commiserating lick in the face because you are not alone and even though it feels like it now the world is not completely awful.
These are the definitions that 9/11 taught me.