Monday, September 12, 2011

Ten Years Later

In the summer of 2002, I worked in New York City through Lutheran Disaster Response (then Lutheran Disaster Relief) leading day camps in congregations that had experienced serious loss on 9/11/01. Not just the loss of the understanding of the world as they knew it, but loss of life.

I worked with children who had parents who came home and parents who didn't. I talked to spouses who waited and were reunited. And some who weren't.

All week I tried to put some order into my feelings. I never tell these stories. They are too raw, too hard, too stark. Two weeks after the camps ended, I moved to Nome, Alaska. I didn't process when I could have and trying to do so now is like trying to rework plaster that has set.

So as I turned over the hard shape of this experience this week, I wrote this in my journal:

Anyway, I want to write a blog post about my memories, but I am not sure what to say or how to talk about the end of my memories. That I had to shut some of them away so that I could move forward. There are memories that are paralyzing in their truth. We have to dim them, fade their edges, fondly tuck them away and allow a burnished fire to peek through the keyhole of our memory trunk. We cannot live with their undimmed fullness in our lives. It is too much. This is not to say that we would ever forget. We just are incapable of remembering so intensely that it hurts. Constantly.

In order to live, in order to do service to life and to the memory of the dead, we go on and we put on foot in front of the other. We are not disrespectful. We have not forgotten. As long as we breathe, we remember, but we also want to live.

In living, we allow those who have died, both too soon and in their time, to continue in us. Through DNA and stories, through impressions and legacies, through gifts and habits.

That is all I have to say.