This morning I woke up remembering, more poignantly than I have remembered in many years, the wheres and whens from 11 years ago this morning.
I was living on 14 St SW in this awesome little casita apartment in Albuquerque. I was so confused, frightened for the world, and unsure of what to do. I felt the distance of my far away family, and wondered, where to go?
I thought of my friend Ronnie. Ronnie of the brilliant smile, Ronnie of the sparkling clean house and unstained white carpet, Ronnie the mom with the big beautiful safe secure house. Ronnie of open arms, an embrace of love, Ronnie of heart and home. So I called and went.
The image that greeted me is indelibly and I'm sure at this point, exaggeratedly, inked into my brain and memory. I opened the front door, entered, looked to the right into the beautiful bright white living room, and there before me, was my very own Madonna, Ronnie of the Rocks, with every possible cleaning utensil and product in her arms, looking all the picture of "Holy Fuck it's an emergency - CLEAN!" because as many of us know cleaning is the only form of sanity and therapy in a trauma situation. And there before her, in his exersaucer, was Kenny. He was so tiny, and he was so happy, and his smile was so brilliant. He was bouncing like a maniac, laughing and smiling, the absolute opposite of the image on the tv, that of the Towers smoldering.
I, in my own true form, brought food to make homemade Mac-n-cheese, the baked kind with crunchy buttery breadcrumbs on top because as many of us know, cooking and eating comfort food is the only form of sanity and therapy in a trauma situation.
I spent the day with Ronnie. More folks came over. I talked to my family. I did what many people did, I walked around in shock, acting normal, bursting in to tears, unable to process the day.
Here, 11 years later, I wondered, how do I explain this to my children? What does 9/11 mean to them? I gathered M & A to me, on my bed. They snuggled under covers and I told them the story of my morning, 11 years ago. I told them of my confusion, I told them of my sadness, I told them of Ronnie's open arms and sparkly house, I told them of horrible incidents that inform our daily lives today.
We sat together, in a circle, held hands and said our daily prayers together. We prayed especially for the families of the 9/11 victims, we prayed for all the people who were there, we prayed for the perpetrators - the terrorists and their families, we prayed for forgiveness and we prayed for peace.
We looked at images, watched some very intimate home video, and then listened/watched a Story Corps cartoon about that day, we watched "Always a Family", you can see that here.
After all that, Augustus was pretty sad, Magdalena wanted to watch more. I decided we were done with our 9/11 tribute/home memorial, and that we needed to move on. M & A wanted to watch Michael Jackson's Bad video but I said, uhhh…nooooo, let's watch clips from Singing In the Rain. We watched Gene Kelly do the title song, we watched Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly dance and sing with the "speech coach", we watched their favorite, "Make 'em laugh" with Donald O'Connor. We finished with the final scene from "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", when Ethel Merman walks into the hospital room and slips on a banana peel and the room erupts into laughter. We watched it over and over and over. Then we watched it again.
We needed to laugh, we needed to be reminded of joy and freedom and laughter. We needed to heal, as we still need to do. We are going out today into this world of remembering and bringing that healing laughter, that joy, and all our love.
Today we are safe, loved, and free.