Almost forgot to post - I started quilting my 911 quilt quilt last night.
Ron arrived back home on Wednesday. Extremely tired from working nights and not sleeping much days, so the first order of business was catching up on some sleep. We're still talking here and there about what happened while he was there. He did do some void searches and he found a staircase in one area but no victims were there.
One of his comments was that life in general is returning to normal in the city. He said by the end of the week someone in fire/rescue garb was less likely to get stopped on the street by others. He mentioned that he went back to "his" pub, Mulligans, to say goodbye and thanks and that it had given him a little normalcy to have a "regular" place to go for meals.
I showed him some of the 911 quilt progress online and then the quilt itself. At dinner last night he asked me what the little triangles meant. I said - what do YOU think they mean? No, he said, I asked you first! So I explained what I thought the various design bits came from - the sudden break in my reality after hearing the news - the deep void of grief at first and then the lesser early grief, fading into a grief-tinted period. To me the little triangular bits might represent the idea that even during grief, normal life pops up to show you that life goes on - you laugh, you see a pretty flower or sunset, you experience love.
He said - wow, totally different. His take - Normal day on the left, and then the bombing in the center and all the smoke, dust and ash on the right. To him the triangular bits represent all the things which fell from the building including people and steel.
I guess that's a success! - when you can look at a piece of art and see something in it based on what's in your head. It might not be exactly what the artist was thinking but it made you think about something and interpret it using the artist's symbols and work.
September 21, 2001 Friend and former co-worker Karen emailed me:
Mike and I had just gotten into the office when we heard about the first plane. In my last "innocent" moment, I believed that the plane crash was an accident. A few moments later, news of the second crash travelled through the office, and it was at that point we all knew it was no accident.
Many of us gathered around a television set in a small conference room on the 3rd floor. When we all saw the first footage of the Pentagon in flames, a dark, unspeakable outrage filled everyone in the room. It was so thick that I almost passed out. (I've never fainted - or even felt like fainting - in my entire life.)
But I probably don't need to tell you the rest. You experienced it yourself...
To me, Karen is expressing the transition that so many of us went through in those minutes after the first crash. Disbelief yes, but more like a grasping for what we could believe. And then that belief was gone. It wasn't an accident. No twist of terrible fate, no failure of metal or technology.
As the days pass, one thing that comes back to me over and over again is that humans did these things. To each other.
I am a human. Would I be capable of this? What makes me different from this? I heard a woman on NPR say that as she passed a mosque in her neighborhood, she turned her head away because she couldn't look on the Muslims "with a gentle eye." I wondered how you could just clump anyone of a certain heritage together this way? Were ALL Germans evil? More immediate perhaps - if we should look at ourselves and see a white person, should we associate ourselves with McVeigh?
Oh wait - a bit of silliness. Wait a minute - that would mean I do silly things in my sewing room. Oh..... I guess that's true sometimes.
Worked on the 911 quilt last night, but today I worked on the quilting for that first october quilt while watching, listening to and crying with the prayer service in NYC. Except for Bette Midler, it was a stirring service. (I like Bette - but no one seemed to have told her that this was a memorial service, not a pep rally) CNN liked it, go figure.
They could have concluded with the words given by Imam Izak-El M. Pasha, a chaplain with the New York Police Department, at the conclusion of a meditation on the burdens felt by many Muslim Americans during the crisis. For a wonderful selection of quotes from the service go here