”All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” -Havelock Ellis
I usually get very excited drumming up new posts ideas for this blog. No post is ever really planned, I try to let the ideas come organically. This past weekend, with the anniversary of 9/11 upon us, my focus and energy were not on MyJudytheFoodie and cooking and reminiscing about Mom and my childhood and the trials and tribulations of being a parent. The sadness born from that horrible morning ten years earlier extinguished the beautiful sunshine from my weekend. MyJudytheFoodie was certainly NOT at the forefront of my mind.
Ten years ago, I was leaving my apartment, getting reading to take my leisurely morning walk with my boss to my office in midtown when I received a frantic phone call and desperate plea from my sister to stay inside because something horribly wrong had just happened. And so, for the remainder of the morning, day and night, my boss and I stayed bunkered in my apartment, watching the nightmare events unfold before our eyes on the television screens. Between the two of us, we did what most people witnessing the event from afar did – we created a call list and tried to phone every single person we knew who lived or worked around the World Trade Center area.
Within the first two hours, we had either reached or gotten word that most of the people on our lists were “safe” (whatever that meant). However, there were still two outstanding names: my husband, who worked in the vicinity of the World Trade Center and had driven to work early that morning, and my friend’s very close friend. At that point all telephone lines were busy and remained that way. We felt helpless. The next two hours of my life seemed some of the longest ones I’ve ever lived. I had no idea if my husband was safe. No one had heard from him. No one knew that I was very newly pregnant with our first child. How could I possibly bring a child up in this world that had suddenly changed and would never be the same? The days’ events became even more raw and corrupt as more details were shed.
Luckily, at 11:35am, I received a three-word text from my husband, “I am ok.” I wasn’t able to actually see him until midnight. He was holed up at a friend’s apartment downtown and only managed to get uptown by borrowing a bike and riding along the deserted West Side Highway in his ash-covered suit. My boss never received the “I’m ok” text from her missing friend. She would spend the next few weeks searching, hoping, praying only to learn that her friend was one of the many innocent victims who perished. Too many people bear the burden of similar stories.
Ten years later and we’re all still incredulous 9/11 is a reality and not some fictional horror book. We suffer and mourn the loss and pain. Ironically, the one person who was my lifeline throughout the entire day on 9/11/01 was my mother; a very healthy mother, pre terminal cancer diagnosis. She kept me sane and strong and her words of comfort protected and assured me that somehow, everything would be ok.
Losing someone you love is never easy. It never seems fair.
The hardest part is taking that first step forward into a new life. A life that contains a void so deep it seems to suck the wind right out of you with every breath. Next comes a realization that life must go on. Then, trying to figure out how to pull everything together. Trying to find strength and resilience in a new normal that equals a life filled with loss.
For those who’ve experienced loss, we’ve all prayed we can at some point “move on.” But, we know we’ll never be able to fully “let go.”
And that’s ok.