A Terrible Club

While at first, the reports came out saying the terror in Boston today may have been related to some sort of electrical explosion, I did not believe it.   For those of us who live or have lived in New York, Mumbai, London, Madrid, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv (or any city in Israel), Baghdad (or any city in Iraq) or Kabul (or any city in Afghanistan) etc. the news was not necessary.  We know terror exists. We have felt its ugly rotten shattering affects.

My 9/11 experience was almost mundane compared to most.  No need for all the specifics. I was a couple of miles from the terror. My wife (fiancé at the time) and I walked back from Midtown Manhattan to the neighborhood we lived in, the Upper West Side. The streets were teeming.  Everyone simply wanted to be home – hoping to find safety in their familiar surroundings. As my wife and I walked, every tall building felt like a potential landmine. To say it was a tense walk home is an understatement.

On that beautiful September day and those immediately following, I experienced a profound change. A naiveté and sense of ease were gone. There was a war a going on and though I never signed up, or had a gun, or was part of a battalion, I was on the battlefield. I will forever see the world differently.

There is evil in the world. That evil needs to be rooted out. We may not always be comfortable with how it is done, and it may not always be handled how we would prefer. Yet, it must be handled by any means necessary and those who do the work should be appreciated.

There are three people dead so far, including an 8 year boy. There are 138 people injured. Yet, there is a whole city that is affected and many more.  I mourn those who are lost. I pray for the families who feel a personal loss. On this beautiful April day, many more people have also lost their innocence. I am deeply sorry that they have joined this uneasy fraternity.

Let me Help

It was a beautiful late summer day. The streets were crowded with people milling around. Aimlessly.

“I think we should go down there,” I said.

“Why” my fiancé asked?

“I want to do something. Maybe, we could help somehow.”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what we could do there.”

“Yeah, dude,” my roommate added. “I don’t even know how we could get there. The subways are not running below 14th.”

“We could walk from 14th. It’s not so far. I want to help out. What good are we doing sitting here?”

The three of us stood outside of the temporary Red Cross building. By the time we had gotten there, they were no longer even taking blood.  All we could offer was dried goods – soap, power bars, etc.

“I think it’s nice that you want to help, but there is nothing we can do,” my fiancé said.

I scoffed in frustration and replied, “I want to see what those bastards did. I want to see with my own eyes.  I want to help. We’re just sitting here. Sucks. I’m going a little crazy here.”

On September 12th, 2001, there were probably many such conversations going on around the city.

It’s natural to want to help others in times of trouble.  When we hear that a friend, neighbor, or family member is ill, one of the first questions we ask is, “How can I help? What can I do?” It is the normal reaction and one that binds us together. People want to help and feel useful. Being productive allows one to feel pride, accomplished and useful.

Since before the storm began, I have felt compelled to organize my home. I have been going through drawers, closets, and desks. Throwing out, straightening up, and sorting through. There is chaos outside my door. Everyday life has been thrown into tumult. However, in my home, I will keep order. I suppose you could call it a coping method. I’d like to think it is a good method – cleaning the house while not driving my family too crazy.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went into my backyard and gathered up the largest limbs that lay strewn about and placed them on the curb. Today, Thursday, I called the Office of Emergency Management a couple of times. I wanted to offer my services – a healthy, relatively strong body. No answer. I spent over an hour and a half raking leaves and gathering sticks. The trashcans are no longer in the garage, the basketball net is no longer on its side, and the outdoor furniture is back on the lawn. Our house looks like it would normally on a fall day.

We remain without power. School is closed for the children and me. My wife’s work place is closed. So, things for us are far from normal.  Yet, many have it much worse and their normal will never be the same. I wish I could help.