Experientialist: a collector of experiences, especially one-of-a-kind.
All these years, I’ve tried to understand. All this time I’ve tried to empathize, but I can’t, because I don’t understand. I want to. I’ve watched many movies about 9/11, but it never gets any clearer. I watched it on the news that day, as it was happening and didn’t get it then.
I am not a morning person, this particular morning was no exception. I woke up to the sound of my name being urgently yelled out from the living room. I came in, groggy, not awake, looked at the television set and the yeller looked up at me and said “…The world is turning upside down” softly, with fear in his voice. I didn’t understand, I thought it was a joke, a spoof, something not real. I went back to bed. Later, I sat mesmerized, glued to the TV. Simply unable to take in or grasp what had happened and what was still happening.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve watched movies, documentaries, I’m sure I devoured the newspapers and magazines as they came out. But I never felt anything. It was like the time I got a phone call telling me my father had died. My father who lived two-three states away, that I hadn’t seen in years. One day he was there and the next day he wasn’t and I didn’t feel a thing.
I continued to try. Prior to 9/11 I dated a firefighter who had firefighter family in NY and I don’t think they made it. I tried to imagine how he must have felt, was still feeling, But, I couldn’t connect the dots, I still didn’t get it.
On the other hand my brother felt it so deeply that he visited ground zero more than once. He tried to explain it to me, I didn’t work.
September 11, 2001, was 11 years, 5 months, 16 days and 12 hours ago and tonight I get it in a way that those last 11 years could never explain. Tonight I watched Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and I saw the impact of 9/11 through the eyes of a child. For all who were affected by this heinous tragedy, I will never fully comprehend the magnitude of your loss. But tonight I finally got it and finally I could mourn.
I welcome and encourage dialogue on this. It doesn’t need to be about 9/11, it can be about any tragedy that has haunted you.