Kaleidoscope Lifetimes: 9/11. We Remember.

I spent precisely 73 minutes, curled up on the tile floor of the New York Library-Bronx Branch, crying yesterday. Book Propped In Front Of Me. Knees Folded. Pages Playing Tear Catchers.

I half expected a librarian to approach me, befuddled by my sinking the library with Titanic-like tears. Ok, maybe not Titanical Tears. But certainly rowboat tears.

Excuse me, are you alright?” She would’ve asked. Clearly feeling awkward upon the sight of me.

Oh, yes… Don’t worry,” I would’ve replied. “I do this all the time, no need to be alarmed. I always plant myself in the nonfiction section when I am having a bad day.

I wish I were kidding but we all have quirky ways to remedy our bad days. I am just more open to admitting mine. Something about the nonfiction section of a library holds me at hard times. The Shelves Quake as I envelope myself in stories that are not my own. Stories that remind me the word “Alone” can disintegrate with two steps in nearly any direction. We are not alone. We are not the only ones having tough days. We are striving so hard to be Individuals that we lose track of Sameness. Sameness Matters. Oh yes, it does.

I cried for a silent waltz between Individuality and Sameness bound up together in a hardcover. 1,901 portraits.1,901 Individuals Who Lost their Lives in September 11, 2001.

Mothers. Husbands. Teachers. Students. Fathers. Brokers. Aunts. Business Men. Fiances. Waiters.

All Different Lives. One Common Ending.

A day when Two planes Took To the air. Took down Two Towers. Took Too many.

If our lives look more like a waiting room than a kaleidoscope today then we are doing something wrong. If we are hoping life will begin someday soon then we are wasting time. If we are allowing words inflated with Doubt, Negativity, Hatred and Defeat take the reins in our vocabulary then we need a new dictionary.

Because 2,996 lives never found tomorrow after September 11, 2001. Over 200,000 lives lost the chance for a better life when the Earth Quaked in Haiti this past year. More than 4,000 soldiers gave up any form of a future to fight a war in Iraq. Why? So that we could have the future. Planted in our Hands.

We need only stare at a cover of the New York Times to slap our own wrists with reality: We have been given a gift. Gifts are never required. Nor guaranteed.

A volume full of single stories, each one begging to burst from beneath their byline, reminds me of the great nobility of everyday existence. In riding the 4 Train to work daily, where Doug Jason Irgang met his future bride-to-be after seeing her daily on the commute to work, reading her paper. They were set to be married in December 2001. In the pots of rice and beans cooked by Jorge Velazquez every Saturday for the homeless and hungry of Manhattan. In the spaces between the breaths of Janet Alonso as she called her husband to tell him That The Office Was Filling With Smoke. That She Could Not Breathe. That She Loved Him.

And then the Buildings Broke.

I am reminded on an every day basis that it will never matter which titles we held or the amount of money that our bank accounts digested. The fibers of our existence are counted then accounted for in the hands that we hold. The well intentions we wish. The prayers we send Upward. The compassion we sent Outward. The love we welcome Inward.

I hold a thousand secrets and I cannot share them all. But here’s one. Lean in closer. Open your ears: The only promising promise exists in this very moment and what we make of it. Ready. Set. Go.


25 thoughts on “Kaleidoscope Lifetimes: 9/11. We Remember.

  1. I wish I’d have been there to help you up and give you a hug just so you didn’t have to cry on your own.

    This morning in my office we were discussing where we were and what we were doing when we heard about 9/11. I remember leaving school and going to my Grandma’s house. I played with my cousin while my Mum, Aunt and Grandma sat in front of the TV watching the news as it came in. I remember wanting to watch the news and pray but my Mum, Aunt and Grandma needed me to look after my cousin – how was a 7 year old to understand what was going on? Then again I think she understood more than they thought she did.

    Thank you for sharing Hannah Katy.

    1. As I was writing this particular post, I too got to thinking about how everyone can recall exactly where they were when they got the news… and how it impacted them in some way or another.

      Hugs are always appreciated too. Ha, thank you!

  2. P.s. There’s the “speech” made at the beginning of Love Actually and it always springs to mind:

    “: Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.” (I found it with help from IMDB)

  3. I do the same thing when I’m having a bad day…so I can quickly remind myself that there’s a lot of other people going through worse.

    This was a definitely great heartfelt post. ❤

  4. I’ve had a hard week, but really, it was a great week. Every day, I remind myself to life in the moment because it’s all we have. Your words are so beautiful and touching and true. Life is a gift and we are blessed to be breathing.


  5. Every year, 9.11 strikes a chord differently with every person. I suggest you take a trip down to ground zero and check out the museum. It’s worth the money, and each time I’ve visited, despite looking at everything through blurry tear filled eyes, I’ve found something new and worth knowing about that day.

  6. You blew my mind with this beautiful Hannah. You filled my eyes with tears, my heart with warmth and my stomach with whirlies – you are amazing and I hope that what you have is shared with the world. The world needs it – so bad.

    Blowing my mind.

    All my best,

  7. Hannah,

    Every time I read your words I get goosebumps. You’re a fabulous writer with a refreshing outlook on life, thanks for sharing it with the rest of us =)

  8. Poignant post.

    I’ve spent the past nine years seeking answers regarding how and why 9/11 happened. I’ll never stop trying to find answers for my questions, but to be honest, the urgency lessens with every anniversary. Now, all I can do is remember the day and what life was like before…what life is like now.

    Before 9/11, life seemed simple..comparitively speaking. I remember the big news nine years ago focused on Gary Condit. Connie Chung landed an exclusive “no holds barred” interview with the beleaguered lawmaker. We crowded around our TV sets on an Indian Summer evening all those years ago, like some Fireside Chat for the New Millenium. Connie asked the questions and we watched and listened intently for his responses. Condit categorically denied having ANY knowledge of Chandra Levy’s where abouts. He knew NOTHING about the missing intern. Did we believe him?

    And really, did it matter??? This was good stuff–salaciously delicious. It had been years since the Clinton/Lewinksy debacle; we wanted more. WE NEEDED MORE and we couldn’t wait until the next juicy Condit interview.

    But that never happened. Our focus shifted.

    The next morning, 19 religious zealots in four hijacked Boeing 757’s made sure of that.


  9. i shed a lot of tears this year for 9-11 people, pictures, stories re-enactments on the history channel i wore a God Bless America red white & blue scarf tied to my bag at the wedding i attended saturday. in my opinion the “proposed building project for nyc should be politely & quietly re located.
    at the wedding was a perfect & precious newborn, our friend emily also just had a new little girl these babies & families have lots of love & hope in their hearts for a safe & happy future so we go on looking past pain & attacks war & meaness and we rely on just what you said giving love, your post was brillant again i cried

  10. Thank you for this post Hannah. I really struggled yesterday being here and not at home, something just didn’t feel right no matter what I tried to do. I’m pretty sure I just cried my eyes out while reading this, but I thank you for that. I had all this pent up tension in my heart and mind, and it needed to come out. As several people have said before, yesterday and everyday is about remembering each moment and all the loved ones, as well as experiencing life and all its imperfections, not sulking. Love and miss you.

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