I opened my daily news email and right at the top is read "Today is the 16th Anniversary of 9/11." I was struck by this sentence, like falling into an icy river. Was that really today? I remember Chris and Todd picking me up before lunch at work. We went to Galileo's and sat with a beer, unable to stop staring at the TV. Chris and I looked at each other at one point and we both said "Talaura" at the same time. He went to his phone then and sent her a message. She was fine. The country went into shock. We went through all the stages of grief. We went to war.
Chris and I would later joke about how politicians would use the phrase "9-11 changed everything" as a scare tactic for votes. We shifted into a country easily ruled by fear. Too easily. The date 9-11 became the Boogie Man. You said the words with a hushed tone while looking over your shoulder as if someone might hear you. And then what? Something bad would happen. Might happen. You never know. The date became cursed. The reality was that the changing of everything would end up being a delayed reaction for me. It would take four, no..actually three years for that wave to hit. J would go to war. We would spend Saturdays building care packages. We'd send him our Girl Scout cookies. I'd buy an extra box of tampons so I could send them in his care package. You know...for bullet wounds. Chris would spend late nights on his computer and occasionally he would be able to catch J online for chats. Chris would come wake me up and say "J's online now. You want to talk to him?" I'd crawl out of bed and sit at Chris's computer and chat about nothing with J. The last time we talked, I told him about Dad's haircut. We laughed. Later on, I would find out that out private messages where all being recorded and read by my government and I would be filled with rage over the injustice of it.
When the tsunami wave of 9-11 finally did hit, it destroyed everything in it's path. Dad stopped sleeping. Mom grew hateful and bitter. Katrina went a little crazy, but can you blame her? Randy pulled further inside his personal shell. It was all sad all the time, but eventually we started to rebuild. We found a way to absorb it all, some of us better than others. That's how it works. Shit gets destroyed, you clean up the mess and rebuild. Prepare for the next disaster. Today though, I started playing the What If game. What if J hadn't died? What if he'd come home to us all? Would Dad not have gotten Alzheimer's? Would Chris still be alive? The What If game never goes well. Michael and I watch a show called "You're the Worst" and most of the characters on the show really are the worst. One guy though is really sweet. He's an Iraq Veteran and he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We watched an episode recently where he was really struggling. He was struggling to keep it together. Struggling for help. Struggling to stay alive. What if J had come back to us in one piece? Would he be struggling with PTSD? It's naive to think he wouldn't come back from that changed in some way. Would we know how to help him? I mean...we didn't know how to help ourselves for a while there.
Sometimes I am still amazed at the chain reactions. Life is just one giant Rube Goldberg device. Some of it resulting in disaster and heartache, but some of it also resulting in great joy. I hate that 9-11 changed everything.