Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/11 -- The Morning After

The morning after 9/11 was slightly different from the morning of. The initial shock wearing off, anger was beginning to plaster over the cracks that appeared in my emotional foundation from the previous day's earthquake. Students at my college appeared oddly normal as they went from class to coffee bar -- the conversation was anything but. Overnight everyone seemed more subdued, more serious, more adult.

While standing in line to pay for my usual wheat bagel and French Roast, a student I'd never met turned and said, "I guess it won't be long before we're not doing this, huh?" I looked quizzical and he responded, "Military food, we're all going to be in a chow line." Looking at me a little closer, he went on, "Yeah, man, even you -- they'll have a place for older guys. We're all in this together."

I took a deep breath and thought about what he'd said. I was about a year short of completing premedical studies but I thought I might be lucky enough to get into the medical corps as a medic. I had a cousin with some influence in the Marines -- he might put in a good word. Then I thought about family, my dogs, and puttin
g my house in order.

None of this ever came to fruition, but it doesn't alter the fact that this is h

Bronze Star Medal; Decoration of the U.S.Image via Wikipedia
ow it was. The course of life didn't change for most of us, at least not in the way we anticipated. I finished my program, got a job as a psychotherapist, wrote a book, and my cousin went on to be awarded a Bronze Star for bravery in Iraq. He's home now, thankfully, with his wife and four children, that part of his life logged in memory.

It seems like it's taken us a long time to work through the grief process over 9/11. We acted out our national rage in a war that remains
unresolved. Instead of experiencing catharsis, the release of pent up emotion, we've cooked up a recipe that leaves us feeling nauseated. Healing can be a messy business. Scar formation takes time and the more serious the wound, the longer it takes. I think we're still working at it, but we'll get there -- eventually.


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