Tuesday , April 23 2024
So many names and faces to go with them. I am one of those faces and I do not fade away with the years; none of us do.

Revisiting 9/11 Forevermore

Every year on this day, we are all New Yorkers. — President Barack Obama

Suddenly, without warning, I am here again, spiraling through the clouds and heavy rain, hovering over what they now call “The Pit” where once stood the buildings known as the Twin Towers. I see that since last year some progress has been made, but it seems incredible that after all this time things aren’t farther along than they are. How can this be?

I gain some control and can focus better through the raindrops; the people who have come to honor me and those like me are nowhere near where it all happened. They are removed and on the edge of things in a small park. I come every year because I desire it, and somehow when I want things they happen. I still don’t understand how it works, and I sometimes cannot believe I am even dead. I know I am but I still can’t accept it, I guess.

The people who have come here are so valiant, standing in the rain with umbrellas and all sorts of raingear covering them. There are children holding flowers, mothers holding photographs, fathers holding signs with names on them and messages. There are wives who cry in the rain and with the rain and in spite of the rain, because their tears are endless as the seas and there is no eight years ago or today, but only a tomorrow without their beloved ones.

I see politicians whom I wish I could not see because these same people did nothing to protect and save me and my brethren. Why are they here now except to capitalize on some political points they can gain? Why can’t they let this day be pure grief and leave those people who are truly suffering alone with others like them?

Of course, the cameras are there and the news people who pretend this didn’t happen during the rest of the year, but they too are using the moment to their advantage, for ratings and whatever reason people without hearts do things. How dare they insult the intelligence and dignity of these good people with their cameras and phony expressions of sorrow?

I still have trouble dealing with that day, accepting that day, and going on with my, well, my existence after death. I am told by others like me that everyone is different after death. Some accept it freely, and those are the lucky ones. Others do not accept it or even do not believe they are dead. I am in this category. I still see myself at my desk, checking e-mail when the first plane hit, and I haven’t been able to reconcile things.

Once the initial impact was over and I had shaken the plaster and part of the cubicle wall off my body, I picked myself up off the floor and did what I always had done when something big happened. I called my wife. People were screaming all around me, smoke was pouring up from the point of impact, and debris hung in the air like confetti on New Year’s Eve. I dialed her number and called her. She already knew because she was ironing clothes and watching TV. I said everything was going to be okay. I told her I was getting out of there and would be home as soon as possible, and that was the last time I spoke to her.

I had no idea about terrorists as I hung up the phone. I knew something terrible had happened from the way the building shook. Maybe an earthquake. Maybe a bomb like back in ‘93. I didn’t know what the hell happened but I was getting out of there, or so I thought. I remember grabbing my jacket and running to the exit door, but the black sulfurous smoke came pouring out as I opened it.

I was spinning and turning and then I remember nothing but the flash of neon light, and then I felt like I was falling forever, way beyond the edge of the building and through time and space and I kept thinking about those e-mails I hadn’t answered, about calling my wife back, and finding a way to get out and on the E train home to Queens.

So all this time has passed for people but nothing has really passed at all, for the dead or their living friends, lovers, and family. What happens seems like it just happened to me, in fact it keeps happening and then I am someplace else, with other victims and then I am free of all that and roaming the earth. Searching. I want to find my body, cram myself back inside it no matter how damaged it is, and find a way to hobble home. I think that my wife will accept me no matter how I look; my children will shower my battered face with tears, and my parents will love me as they always have no matter what.

I have been searching and am amazed at how time means nothing and everything. I can think I want to be someplace and I am there instantly. I have marveled at things I never saw in life, but I am humbled by people all over the world who have mourned me and others like me who died on 9/11. I am also revolted by those who celebrated the fall of the Twin Towers like it was a victory on a playing field. How shameful are these people? Well, wait until it’s their turn to die. They’ll see how it is.

I know the people responsible for what happened are not all caught yet. I’ve been there in Afghanistan and have seen our brave men and women fighting the good fight, but it’s not over. I know many people just want it to be over, but it is never over. All of you ridiculous people who bemoan water-boarding and all this other stuff, I have news for you: there are hundreds and thousands more of people just like those guys who caused the fall of the towers. They’re waiting to strike again anywhere and anytime, and you’re worried about their rights and care nothing about all those souls lost that day.

Let me tell you something. All you have to do is flood Afghanistan with soldiers, all the ones from that other war that is over anyway in Iraq. I’ve been there too and have seen the courageous soldiers fighting, but we need them over in Afghanistan now. All of them and more. We need to flood that country and occupy every area of it, push across the border into Pakistan whether or not anyone likes it, and crush these people now. If we do not, more buildings will fall and people will die and it will never end. Trust me, it never ends.

So I am here again. I thought about the day and I was here. This is how it works for me now. I flutter down through the rain, looking for my wife amongst the many. I hear the people crying, I see their tears mingling with the raindrops, but this does nothing to dilute their pain and suffering. They are reading the names on a platform. So many names and faces to go with them. I am one of those faces and I do not fade away with the years; none of us do.

I finally see my wife and children standing there under two big umbrellas. My son and daughter are so big now. She brought them this time after not bringing them before. It’s not like I haven’t seen them; I visit the house now and then to watch over them. It hurts me so that I cannot hold them, cannot brush the tears from their eyes, but I am there with them and kiss their foreheads as they sleep in bed, and I try to spoon my wife as she sleeps, still clinging to her side with the rest of the empty bed seemingly waiting for me. Well, honey, I am there. Always.

The ceremony is over now and the people are walking down toward The Pit to a small pool, throwing in flowers of love and memory. The grieving is extraordinary, the comfort is in the process and I can see my children each drop a flower in the pool, followed by my wife. She sobs as she drops the flower, says a few words I can’t understand from where I am, but I do know what she has said. There was so much unsaid between us when I died, but I know it all by heart now anyway, for it has been revealed to me through her prayers.

Things end rather quickly and I am moving upward again, toward the rain and grey clouds, and I look down at The Pit one last time, knowing I’ll be back. This time of year next year, and the year after that, until the end of time. We on this side will never forget and we need you on that side to always remember. We are all energy now, floating together above the mourners and we intermingle, allowing each other’s thoughts to be heard.

There are thousands of us joined for a moment in time, and then just like that we shoot out in all directions, heading to all corners of the earth, parting ways but not company. We are all part of a club we never wanted to join, but we are members for eternity. I don’t even know where I am going, but I am still searching and hoping to find a way to accept.

Whatever happens I’ll be back. We’ll all be back because we have no choice. So, remember us not just this one day a year, but all 365 days of it. Please build these towers to show the world, and get them built faster and higher and do it for us. Get Bin Laden and any other person who would ever harm innocents, and show the world justice and remind them of our legacy. Do it for us all and never forget us. Never forget us because all we can do is remember and wait.

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His new novel, 'Unicorn: A Love Story,' is available as an e-book and in print.

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