I’m careful, when I write these essays, not to choose as a topic anything that might seem as if I’m trying to profit in any way from other people’s tragedies.
Truthfully, while the concept of my weekly essays originally was to make my name known, I no longer look at Wednesday’s Words as being primarily a promotional tool.
The column stopped being that the day I told you about my son, Anthony, and the heartbreak of losing a son who had himself lost a daughter.
If I had to categorize WW, I guess I’d stick it in a box labelled “dues”.
I am a writer of genre fiction, and while I do put a lot of effort into creating characters that are empathic and a plot that keeps the reader’s interest, while I take care to toss in some real-life issues, basically I write books to sell them.
No one pays me anything for Wednesday’s Words. This is the writing that comes from my soul, and the sharing of one’s soul ought only to be a gift.
This past Sunday, the United States marked a terrible anniversary. There have been commemorations and reminiscences by those who were there, and those whose loved ones were victims of that despicable violence. In the wake of their eloquence, my words seem, to me at least, inadequate.
I’ve been trying to recall what the world was like pre-9/11. The picture is hazy. We were naïve, I suppose. We felt safe, and secure, confident that terrorist attacks happened elsewhere, never here, never in North America. Even after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, we still clung to our belief that we were safe, here in our two countries, from such violence.
We weren’t safe, of course, and now in this “post 9/11” world we understand that while we may be relatively secure, we’re not immune from the senseless and futile acts of hatred that others commit. The truth is, we never were.
The attacks of September 11, 2001affected all of us, each in different ways. It changed us, and continues to change us in ways we could never have imagined. We’ll none of us ever forget those horrible moments, when stunned disbelief gave way to hideous reality. In those minutes and hours when we waited to find out “what’s next”—when we didn’t know if there was more destruction to come, we had a glimpse of the apocalypse.
And yet, as the sun continued to rise and to set, we heard stories of human amity and love in the aftermath of tragedy. In Gander, Newfoundland, a city opened its doors and its hearts to strangers who were stranded when airliners were ordered to land, the travel itineraries of thousands halted; volunteers from every walk of life undertook a pilgrimage from all points west, north and south to go to New York City, to lend their hearts and souls, their hand and their backs, to the massive task of rescue and recovery.
It’s human nature to look for these moments of grace, and to not only celebrate them but cling to them.
For to find grace in the midst of devastation is, I believe, to assert the immutable triumph of the human spirit.