I don't want to look at Photoshopped pictures of the towers that once stood now painted in the stars and stripes.
I don't want to look at the spotlights replicating the fallen towers.
And dear God, I do not ever want to look again at photographs or videos of planes crashing into skyscrapers, great, billowing plumes of smoke rising, or steel and glass collapsing.
No, I don't want to look at the twisted, mangled wreckage of the Twin Towers which has become the grave for thousands.
I remember without those images bombarding me on the Internet or the television. Those memories are seared into my mind's eye.
I can easily enough remember the phone call from my husband telling me to turn on the t.v. and watching in stunned horror as the first tower burned and a plane crashed into the second one. I remember it all happening in real time as I stood frozen in my living room watching it unfold, thinking it couldn't get any worse....and then the first tower fell....and then the second.
I can remember that being followed by reports of the Pentagon being hit and then reports of a missing and still unaccounted for plane somewhere over my home state of Pennsylvania.
I remember standing transfixed in my living room holding Diana's lunch in my hands because she had forgotten to take it to school and I was on my way to deliver it when my husband called.
I remember wondering if I should take her lunch or bring her home from school because I wondered if one of the two sites in our area that might be considered strategic targets were where that missing plane was headed.
I remember driving in a daze and arriving to a school office that was a flurry of frantic parents and one calm secretary who asked what I wanted to do and I told her, "I don't know." She said the teachers were under orders to keep the televisions and radios off and proceed as normal but if I wanted to take my daughter I could since so many students have parents who work in Manhattan. I remember forcing myself to opt for normal and leaving lunch for my daughter....then crying all the way home.
I remember picking Isaac up from kindergarten and letting him play by himself upstairs while I tried to secretly watch news reports until my watching was pierced by a bloodcurdling scream. He had shoved a bead up his nose.
I remember trying a myriad of ways to get that bead out of his nose and finally telling him we'd have to go to the doctor. I remember the way he clung to me and cried asking, "Will they have to cut my nose off to get the bead out?" And I remember gently reassuring him that no such horror would befall him. I remember being grateful that my attention was redirected to my son's needs and also envious of his innocence because, as far as he knew, a bead up the nose was the worst thing that could happen that day...though when you are five and scared of your nose being cut off that is a pretty big deal.
I remember my husband coming home and both of us spending time trying to track down news on the whereabouts of all the friends we had who worked in or around the towers. And I remember the deep sighs of relief upon learning each of them had escaped to safety.
I remember the days that followed when we learned about friends of friends who had not been so fortunate. I remember being angered that Calypso's 3rd grade teacher, who I adored and respected, had passed out newspapers with pictures of the burning towers to each of her students.
I remembered how Calypso carried around her copy wherever she went for weeks because she said it was important and she needed to. I remember forcing myself to allow her to work through her own thoughts and feelings about the event in her way, talking with her frequently about her processing of 9/11, and forcing myself NOT to take that newspaper and throw it away so she wouldn't look at it every single day.
I couldn't stand seeing the images of the moment thousands of hearts stopped beating. I still can't. But I remember nonetheless.
Instead of burning buildings and massive devastation I prefer what the designer of the Ground Zero Memorial has given us, an open space cultivating calm amidst the mayhem of the city, a place for peaceful reflection and hopefully some measure of healing.
May those who lost family and friends on that day find peace and healing in their lives. May all of us work toward peace and healing in a broken world.