On the surface, maybe the impending rain and expected hurricane don’t have much to do with the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but today, the air feels heavy. The molecules of rain hold as many memories as we do, of past storms, losses, and the ways we’ve come together, and where we haven’t yet.
Where were you on 9/11/01? It is a question that we can all answer. I’ve seen the last text messages of the people who died on the airplanes. First responders rested in the graveyard of St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church across from Ground Zero, and I wondered how much misery and peace could exist in one place at once. A friend remembered to me this morning that he lived across from the hospital in Manhattan. They had put their mass casualty plan into action and medical professional were lined up along the sidewalks with wheelchairs and gurneys for patients who never came. That haunts me, especially as we make preparations of another kind here in NC.
A state of emergency has already been declared- this time we have advanced warning. Be patient in the grocery stores, and in the gas lines. As we ready ourselves for Hurricane Florence, go to your neighbors and ask if anyone has special needs – oxygen machines, limited mobility, medication refills. Many of us have suffered losses and these times can be hard on anyone, especially those who have already experience trauma. Help each other prepare. Know that the clean-up will be long and difficult, so rest when you can.
My neighbors gathered this past Sunday to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Hurricane Fran. It seems an odd thing to celebrate, but in 1996 when the neighborhood was without power for a week, the people came together to clear the limbs from the road and each other’s houses. As the freezers melted, they brought out the grills and had one hell of a cook-out – sharing all the food, using it all before it could spoil. United, in community.
We carry some of the past’s sadnesses with us. Today we are all worried about what we might lose. That is to be expected, but would you be afraid if you had nothing to lose? We have so much. My neighborhood is an odd mix – young and very old, Trump supporters and BLM activists, Christians and Muslims, and non-believers. There is much that tells us we are too different, until we break bread together and remember how we come together – if we can do it in the worst of times, why not in the best? Breaking bread is even more powerful than a hurricane, or a plane, or a policy. Only people can break bread together – this power is entirely yours. Use it. Look out for each other.