Once Upon a Time

In the fall, a decade ago, I was 16.

I was a junior in highschool. An all-girls, Catholic highschool where we wore dark tartan skirts and navy blazers. The halls were constantly ringing with giddy shrieks and laughter.

I wasn’t yet allowed to drive.

I hadn’t yet met the boy I would date for the next three years.

I was planning to be a doctor.

I had never heard of Barnard College.

I was inclined toward punk music and moody, melancholy lyrics.

I loved British literature.

As I observed September 11th come and go this year, I marveled over how long ago, yet not so long ago, that day seems. How is it that I am now able to measure my life by the decades I have lived? I reflected on how the events of that morning forever shaped the world I was just beginning to know. I remember feeling that, if time heals all wounds, we couldn’t move away from the day fast enough. How much time would it take to dull such heartache?

Does no generation escape such tragedy? For my mother, it was JKF. For my father, it was Medgar Evers. For others it is World War II or Vietnam or Oklahoma City. For everyone, there is a moment in their lives that made them sit up and take notice, a moment that changed the way they lived on a daily basis, a moment that brought them closer to the truth that the evils of this world are often made manifest by our fellow human beings. A moment that is now another thread in the intricate fabric woven by centuries of those who came before us.

Now, it is 10 years later and I am 26. Some days I feel exhausted; that I have lived, yet not even begun to live, so much in these few years. Hundreds of tiny tragedies continue to occur all around us as we move with the tide each day. None of these things, though, ever seem to add up to September 11th and the other great, singular devastations in our history. Nor is the heartache caused by so many lives lost ever truly dulled. And, perhaps, more unfortunate still, is the fear from the realization that it could always happen again.

 

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