Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Three unknown strangers to the left, then me, Paul, the Statue of Liberty, Rick, Anne is seated in front.
I seem to have lost my 2005 calendar so this is all recollection at this point. Some of it is engraved on my brain, some of it seems to have just slipped away. I need to speed up the writing before more of it goes!

When I found this picture, I saw the rest of the album which had included a visit in mid-June from my old college roommate Suzanne and her son Nate. We were able to meet for a good part of one day while they were on their way to meet the rest of her family in New Jersey maybe (her older son Jesse was at school in Massachusetts, so it may have been further north!). Sue had asked to visit Thomas's grave so I picked her up from the Metro I believe, which is just a couple of miles south of the cemetery and we drove up Georgia Avenue to Gate of Heaven. She said a prayer and paused for a few minutes to just spend a little time. Sue and her boys had seen Thomas just before he left for basic training so this grave was not an abstraction, but the resting place of someone she had known a little when he was an adult.

In June, Anne decided to return to the east coast for a vacation with her husband and her son Paul (who is a year older than Matthew). The plan was for me to join them with Matthew in New York City, though in the end Matthew felt too shy to go, and then have Anne and Paul come here for a few days. I felt a bit odd and adventurous getting on the train by myself and heading for Penn Station on a summer day, but found the hotel with no problem (it really is hard for me to navigate in strange places but the grid system of NYC is a great help to the directionally dyslexic).

We did a lot of walking around and touring and all was pretty well until we did a harbor tour past the Statue of Liberty and looking back at the oddly bereft skyline. One of the guides talked about the firehouse that had suffered the greatest losses on 9/11 and their little gift shop--I think to support the surviving families but I wasn't taking notes--and I burst into tears. Poor Anne just wrapped her arm around my shoulders and let me weep until I stopped. Something about being aware of the timeline and sequence of events from September 11, 2001 to November 11, 2004 overwhelmed me for those few moments.

But this may be one of the first times that I remember noticing that, once I had stopped crying, the episode was over and I could go on with the rest of the day not as if nothing had happened, but just not weighed down by that storm of grief. I've started thinking of it like rain bands surrounding hurricanes--they sweep in and they sweep out, leaving puddles but not always lingering floods.

No one seemed to have noticed me crying.

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