I knew one person who died on September 11, 2001. Alan Beavan. He was on Flight 93, on his way back to San Francisco. I knew Alan from the meditation center I had frequented. He was a lovely, inspiring man. Calm and still, like a lake, from what I remember.
On Saturday, Dennis and I were flipping through channels after Little J had gone to bed. We landed on a memorial ceremony just as as young woman said, “My father, Alan Anthony Beavan.”
The coincidence. So many names. Of all of those lost, for us to have landed on that channel in that moment. It gave me chills.
I was hoping it would make me cry, but it did not. In fact, I’d been in need of a good cry since I came home from the hospital. I needed catharsis, some kind of trigger to let it all out. But I’d been stuck in a place outside of both my physical and emotional bodies. And I’d not yet come back.
This is the third anniversary of September 11th since our family was given my diagnosis. And I have to say that, when I remember September 11th, I of course think of the horror and the loss of innocence. But I have to admit that I also remember the innocence that was still in tact, at least for our family.
Because I have such a strong memory of that time period, (we all do, right? From September 11th through the new year that followed, at least) it has become a period I go back to often. It was a time when my body was not only healthy, but at a peak. I was teaching yoga and practiced at least an hour and a half per day. I worked too many hours, it’s true, but physical stamina was something I had in spades, something I thought could never be taken away from me.
So the anniversary of September 11th is usually a time of mourning for me on many levels. But it’s also a time for me to go inward and flush out the stuck emotions, to wring out any sadness that might be hiding in my tissues, my bones.
But not this year. I was numb all weekend.
Then Sunday, Clever, Little J’s fish, died. First Dennis whispered the sorrowful news into my ear while I stood rinsing a cup. Then he took Little J out to the porch, nestled him into his lap and explained that Clever had left his body, but that his spirit and his heart was still with us.
I peeked out our bedroom window to find the boys, their identical profiles, brows knit, eyes squinting, framed by the camelia bush and our American flag, still not taken down from the Fourth of July.
The flood of tears hit me before I could stopper it. I ran to the bathroom and locked the door. Though I’d been waiting for it all weekend, I wasn’t ready for the rush of emotion when it finally came. And I wanted to dig deep, get it all out. I folded a big fluffy towel in my lap and buried my head.
Then Little J was at the door. He couldn’t hear me. But he knows things, this kid.
“Mommy. Clever is in a better place. And we still have his heart.”
And then the tears came faster. He couldn’t hear me, but somehow wanted me to know he was OK.
“I’ll be right out buddy. Get your crayons. We’ll draw him a picture.”
Finally, finally. The shock and sadness, the mourning and loss, it all gushed out.
And afterwards, as ever, I was left with stillness. I was left with the shimmering on the surface of all that’s still left for me. The sparkle on the lake, the remains. You know what it looks like. That shine, flickering golden light forever.