Undici Settembre -
Learning to Live with the Sadness
Undici settembre - that's Italian for 11
September. Italians put great significance on important dates. Every
major city has roads named after historic dates. Roads like Via
Every school child
in America will know 11 September 2001 for every generation to come.
We returned to Orcas just five days after 11 September,
the darkest day in American history. With over 6,400 missing or
confirmed dead, it is the single highest fatality count in all of U.S.
history. Bigger than D-Day, bigger than Pearl Harbor, bigger than
any battle in the Civil War when we were battering ourselves to
death. This time it wasn't young men in uniforms. It was
innocent civilians. Just folks. American folks going to
work. Big Wall Street tycoons. Secretaries. Window
washers. Shoeshine boys. We were never supposed to experience
this. The Cold War taught us to duck under our desks when the sirens
went off, and I guess, as kids we thought that it could happen. But, since the missiles
were silenced we have been lulled into a euphoria of the promised land, never
dreaming the terror of war could happen in our beloved New York
City. Nor ever envisioning real-life heroes emerging from "Suits"
traveling to San Francisco on United 93.
The horrors in our American life had previously been
played out with mixed-up kids and their dad's guns. However, they
were never close enough to really effect us. Yes, Oklahoma City was
horrific. But somehow we mentally wrote it off as just one stupid
jerk who took a bigger headcount than Charles Ng. But this. We were
so unprepared for how it would effect us so profoundly. The image of
those two mighty, gleaming towers crumbling on themselves is forever
burned on our hearts. America defiled. Wounded deep.
Cutting through us and leaving us in shock, horror, anger, and grief and
depositing us into a pit of sadness. We just ached. Ached for
the families deprived of their loved ones. Ached for destroyed
So Orcas seemed like the right thing. It would get us back on
an airplane right away. We could escape the constant stream of
wretched images and relax with friends in one of the most serene
environments in the world.
Orcas was, indeed, a marvelous respite, but, alas, it
proved to be only a lull. I am afraid, we are going to have to learn
to live in this new world with its ghastly images and its anxiety over the
next dropping shoe. But in the end, it is friends and family
that really matter. It is the precious moments we spend with them
that gives joy and comfort, and undici settembre has taught us just
how precious those moments really are. So, here are a few comforting
images of dear friends sharing some very precious moments, at what has
become for us our Ameircan Serenissima, Orcas Island.