I wanted to say: “Yes, that’s nothing new. Besides, it’s six-thirty in the morning! ”“ It’s war in New York, ”she went on. That didn’t make any sense either, after all in New York you always have the feeling that you are at war. “Turn on the television,” she said. I did that. I woke my wife and the first thing we saw on the screen was the two burning towers of the World Trade Center. We tried to call our daughter in New York but couldn’t get through, then we tried our friend Joanne (who works near the World Trade Center), but that didn’t work either, and we were stunned in bed. We stayed in bed and in front of the television until 5 p.m., only then did we find out that nothing had happened to our daughter and Joanne. But something had happened to Bill Weems, a unit manager we worked with recently. When the transmitters ran a tape on the edge of the screen with the names of the aircraft passengers, we saw Bill’s names. My last memory of him is the two of us joking around in a morgue while we were doing a satire on the -15-
Tobacco industry turned. Match two black humor guys with some funeral directors and you’re practically in seventh heaven. Three months later he was dead and – as the saying goes – “life as we knew it has changed forever.” Indeed? Does it have? How has it changed? Are we already far enough from this tragic day that we can ask this question and give an intelligent answer? Life has certainly changed for Bill’s wife and seven-year-old daughter. That is the terrible thing about the child’s father being taken away from him so early. And for the other relatives of the 3,000 victims too, life has changed. You will carry this grief around with you for life. They are told that life must go on. Where to go next? Anyone who has lost someone (and I guess pretty much everyone will do it at some point) knows that life goes on, of course, but the pain in the stomach and the heartache will never go away. Precisely for this reason one must find a way to accept the pain and use it for oneself and the other living. Somehow we all muddle through our personal losses, get up the next morning and the morning after next and make breakfast for the children, stuff the laundry in the washing machine, pay the bills and … Life has also changed in Washington, which is far away.