Remembering Never, Again
I didn’t want to do this for several reasons. Mainly, because I thought everyone else would. But then I realized they probably wouldn’t. When something big, emotional, and traumatic crosses our paths, sometimes it’s easier to forget about it. But sometimes there is value in remembering the thing you want to forget forever. It can clarify what’s important to you. In a sense, by remembering the hard things you refresh your list of priorities.
I remember it like it was yesterday…
I was living with my wife in our first house in Ft. Lauderdale. I had taken a job at an insurance repair business as a supervisor of a small crew. We repaired water and fire damage, mainly. My wife and I were also deep in the process of helping start a church in Miami, FL.
This particular day I was working alone. My job was to go to south Miami(Kendall, I think) to do some punch-out on an apartment building that the company had the contract on. I have always been a news junky, so I had the radio on in my work van while driving.
Just as I had arrived there was a new flash about a small commuter plane that had accidentally flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings. Of course, in a short time I would learn that both those details were quite wrong.
At that point, I had no reason to be overly concerned or worried. I thought it was awful, but I had no idea. So I gathered my tools and went into the apartment building to work.
I set up and went to work. I put on my little portable radio and started painting a door jam. While I was working and listening a second plane suddenly hit the other World Trade Center building. That’s when I knew it wasn’t an accident.
From there, the news was patchy. I was lacking focus and momentum, because I was a little afraid by this time. I continued working. I was dragging, but what else could I do?
And then the first building collapsed.
The news wasn’t clear on this at first. That’s because it was so unbelievable. Eventually, the truth was clear: The building was gone. I was in shock and sick.
The other one fell.
By this time, I couldn’t work. I decided to take an early lunch. Mind you, I had only been working some 30 or so minutes. So I took my lunch in the van and listened to the radio. And listened. And listened.
Finally, I decided I couldn’t work. I was just so distraught. So I packed up, went home, and watched the TV coverage all day and late into the night. I couldn’t watch and couldn’t stop, all at the same time.
I went to work the next day. I also continued to watch the news coverage at night. But by the weekend, I couldn’t anymore. It was just too much. And that is the main approach I’ve taken since then.
I remember only when necessary.
Several years ago, I flew up to Connecticut to help my Dad move. He lived in the south west portion of the state, which functioned as a suburb of New York City.
Through the course of the day, neighbors would stop by to wish my Dad well (we were pushing out the next day). One neighbor got to talking. We all sat on the grass in the spring sun. They had a beer and I had a Coke (since I hate beer, and all).
He got to talking about his big brother. Stories of childhood, being best friends, best men at each others weddings, etc. ensued. So I asked if his brother lived in the area.
That’s when he told me all about September 11th. And I remembered it all over again. His brother worked in one of the buildings.
He proceeded to recount the events of the day—from his perspective. He cried all the while. This was a big dude. He was a construction worker, big and burly. So it had quite an impact on me. I looked at the situation totally different. I’m glad he shared his story. In that moment, it brought clarity and does just as strongly every time I remember.
Remembering the things we never want to remember is hard. But sometimes it is good to. It helps us think on what is most important to us.
What were you doing that day?
*Remembering Never is something I repost each year, since there’s no better way for me to say all this.