I Remember, but I wish I didn’t

I remember 9/11.
I can see it as clearly as if I were standing in the newsroom with my students– on the phone with my husband telling me to turn the channel to MSNBC because something had happened at the Twin Towers. I can relive every moment as my class watched in horror as the second plane crashed intentionally into the second tower. We didn’t stop watching.

When I got home, I kept the TV on. I didn’t turn the TV off for a week. Not for a second. Every night I tried to sleep, but the news was on. Always.
As I prayed and asked God for a miracle.
That someone would be alive.

I didn’t know a single person in New York or D.C. that day, but it felt like every person interviewed was a neighbor. I watched, stunned, as day after day after day people who lost loved ones were interviewed.

When the news started playing the voice mails left behind by people who never made it home, I cried.

About three months after 9/11, I stopped sleeping through the night.

I’d fall asleep and then wake up catching my breath, sure something horrible had happened to my daughter. I’d have to walk into her room and make sure she was okay.
Once she stayed the night with my parents and I had to call at 2 a.m. to make sure she was alive. My mom laughed and told me of course things were fine. I laughed, too. But inside, I wondered if I was going crazy.

Finally, at a doctor’s appointment in January, I told my family practitioner what was going on. I whispered the words because it took everything in me to make myself speak. I was terrified of what was wrong with me.

The doctor listened to me and then asked me about my 9/11 experience. I brushed her question off quickly.

9/11 experience? I didn’t have a 9/11 experience. The people with loved ones in New York and D.C., with family members in the military, with friends who served as police and firefighters…THEY had a 9/11 experience. I was a passive bystander in every way other than the night we went to church and prayed.

I explained this to the doctor and she didn’t say anything while I talked. When I was done, she asked if I watched the events on TV. I’m addicted to the news. I not only watched it on TV, I accessed it online. It consumed my life outside of work for several days. I wasn’t alone. Everyone I knew stayed glued to the news those first weeks after.

My doctor nodded and then explained that I was suffering from panic attacks. That the panic attacks could be from a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by my non-stop news viewing. She prescribed an anti-depressant, told me to take it until I felt I could try to go without.

I took the medicine for a few months. It worked. I got better.

I thought it was over. Until this anniversary of the day that changed our lives in so many ways. The news is covering the horrors of that day again and again. You can’t flip channels without seeing the Towers fall. I want to watch Toddlers and Tiaras and Housewives and What Not to Wear and Food Network. Anything to NOT see a replay of those days. And THAT makes me feel even worse.  I can sink into mindless TV and ignore a day that shouldn’t be ignored and so very many people can’t because while my problem was caused by non-stop news, they lost people they loved and cherished.

I feel unpatriotic. I say the Pledge every day at school. I support the troops and say prayers for those in harm’s way. I don’t want us to forget what happened because if we do, it will happen again and again and again, and God knows, we need to do everything in our power to keep that from happening.

But I don’t want to watch the horrors of those days replayed again and again on cable news networks with ridiculous headlines like WHAT IF IT HADN’T HAPPENED? New flash. There is no what if. IT HAPPENED.

So while this is the decade anniversary of the most horrifying day in my memory, I won’t be watching the news. I don’t need to see it, hear it, read it. I don’t need to because if I’m not careful, when I close my eyes, I can’t make it go away.


5 responses to “I Remember, but I wish I didn’t

  1. I had made a decision not to watch the news this week but the wildfires have me tuning in. As soon as the news switches to the anniversary, I change it. I can’t go back to that sorrow. Like you, I knew no one there, but I remember that day so clearly, remember the stunned newscasters announcing that over 300 firefighters died in the falling towers and sobbing. Hell, I’m crying writing this.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to want to lose yourself in mindlessness. We don’t need to be told to remember. We remember.

  2. I am with you, MB. I was worried that upwards of 20,000 people would be killed in the Twin Towers plus many nearby. A massive number of people worked in those towers! When the numbers came, though, I was relieved. There were not as many casualties as I thought there would. However, there were still too many. Thank God for the effective work of FDNY to evacuate as many as they did successfully, and several of their number still made the ultimate sacrifice to rescue others. I am reminded of Jesus Christ’s words, “Greater love has no man than for a friend to die.”

    Yes, it was a tragic day for us, but it was also one of great victories. The stories of heroism that came were incredible. That part of the created that reflects the Creator was shown magnificentlyly. Never have I seen such a witness of God in the actions of people. In the midst of a great tragedy, although brought about by human hands acting in extreme malice, God once again turned what was meant for evil to good. Yes, there is still the affect of the wrong, but if you look, what a few did to initiate such devistation was outweighed by the many acts of sacrifice, selflessness, and kindness that were manifested in responce. I pray that I will never witness such again in my life, but I remember that my parents were witnesses to the Great Depression, the Nazi atrocities, Pearl Harbor, the Bataan death march, Heroshema and Nagasaki, as well as 9/11. So the inevitible will occur as long as the return of Christ in glory is lengthened. However, we have a hope that defies human reasoning and wisdom: that of Christ Jesus and all being worked to his glory – no matter the intention.

    Yes, I have my struggle with depression, too. A major league struggle at that. But, I have my eyes fixed upon the prize for which I struggle. It doesn’t mean that I do not need the help of anti-depressants (after all according to scripture, ALL healing comes through Christ). It does not mean I will not witness such horrors in life. It simply means they are not where I focus, and because of where I focus, everything else seems to find its right place. It is a struggle we all face and we face it daily. Once again, I cite holy scripture to say we must daily face that battle and die to it – allowing Christ to live through it and through us. It is not only possible, but it is necessary. It is not only necessary, but possible. There is a way, for God will allow nothing to come upon us that we cannot bear. And I suppose in God’s knowledge, some of us are much stronger than what we think we are!

    So hang tough, trust it to God and look for the half full side of the glass! NOt easily said nor done for me I can assure you. But with Christ, all things are possible!

  3. Reblogged this on A Writer's Life and commented:

    I posted this on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

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