9/11: A Bag of Tomatoes and an Empty Sky

Today is as it was. The day is so perfectly vivid in my mind, that I just don’t need to write it again. The phone call; the horror; the waiting to hear from my husband; the abandoned bag of tomatoes; the empty, empty sky:

I remember thinking, after a few hours, that New York might be shut down for a while, and that it would be a good time to buy some provisions, the old standbys, milk, eggs, bread, water – and few other things, too. Propane. Duct tape. Tinned meat. I wandered through the nearly empty store, which was running a live news broadcast, and those of us shopping looked at each other as though we were ghosts, like we could see right through one another. “I wonder when the next shoe is going to drop,” one woman said to me as she filled a plastic bag with tomatoes and then, distracted and in shock, simply left it behind as she moved on to the bread aisle.

Checking out in stunned silence, loading my groceries into the car, I looked up to see the empty, silent sky. No planes, no fluffy contrails. Just space – that startling, serene blue.

I will be honest, I don’t want to keep thinking about 9/11. I just don’t. I can’t imagine there is anything left to be said or felt, any new wisdom to be received, except perhaps for the always-ripe understanding that when horror strikes, we live with the regret of things gone unsaid, or other things spoken too roughly, and that finally, we should choose our words carefully, because for someone, they might be our last.

As Will Duquette points out, even online.

Grant Gallicho: how it felt

Bush’s best speech

Glenn Reynolds rounds up the day

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Ever since 9/11, “Shoes”—in the form of Islamic terrorist attacks—have been dropping all over the world. We just don’t want to hear them; we stick our fingers in our ears, so we won’t hear the thump-thump-kaboom, as they hit.

    Do not worry about things left unsaid. Instead, worry about keeping your friends, family and countrymen safe, so they’ll be around for you to talk to.

    We should be thinking about the erosion of freedom in our own country, our Islamophilic administration, the plight of Christians in places like Iraq, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines. (How’s that Arab Spring working out for everybody?)

    “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

  • Andy

    Thank you for sharing the Will Duquette website – I was not aware of him. He even reads the kind of books I do. However, his statement about the internet was sobering and makes me wonder what we have become as a country- time for solitude and prayer is needed by all of us.

  • Mary

    I read about it online — a plane collided — I thought it was a little one but didn’t want to read about it after having been laid off the Friday before, and went off to eat and do other things.

    Then my sister called from work to tell me to turn on the TV.

    I think I watched TV for 15 minutes that day. Maybe 20. Not in sequence. I don’t understand how anyone could have watched more and not overloaded.

    Though I talked a lot online. Even heard that the plane crash in Pennsylvania really was connected before it hit the news. (There were so many rumors that day about whether this, that or the other thing was connected, and all of them sounded equally plausible.)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Never mind what happened 11 years ago.

    Think about what is happening today.

    “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    the End of Your Arm blog has an interesting article on this. (Go go google, type in “End of your arm blog”.)

    Scroll down to “Eleven years after, unfinished business”, about the middle of the page.

  • Teresa

    Looking up at the sky this morning, I realized that it was exactly the same 11 years ago when I and thousands of others were standing on 15th street in Washington D.C. hoping to catch a car pool headed out of Washington. I shall never forget that but I do agree that we need to think about what is happening today, lest we are forced to experience the horror all over again.

  • Margaret

    At the time of the attacks, we lived right in the flight path of the local airport. I grew up near Kennedy, so the planes were simply always part of the background noise of life. Until they all stopped.
    A few days later, I had all the windows open while cooking dinner, when all of a sudden I heard a plane fly overhead. My poor little ones must have thought I was off my rocker– Mommy was crying **again** only this time the TV wasn’t even on.

  • http://Pathos Wild Bill

    I have a much different view on the events of 9/11. Most of this comes from living on the other side of the country from New York and never having been there or really cared much about being there. I can certainly understand the people in and around New York City thinking they had a target pinned on them. This is what comes from being in the SEAT of WORLD POWER and Domination in New York City and Washington DC. Out here in the Northwest the only terror attack we have ever had was during WW2. A small Japanese airplane tried to set a forest fire in Southern Oregon and failed. What makes this more interesting is that years later the pilot was invited to the community and became friends. WE need more love and friendship and less hate? Isn’t that what Jesus preached and why he was crucified?

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    “I will be honest, I don’t want to keep thinking about 9/11. I just don’t. I can’t imagine there is anything left to be said or felt…”

    The only thing I want to feel now is forgiveness. I keep telling myself I forgive those that did this, but it’s an intellectual exercise. My heart doesn’t truly feel forgiveness. I thought at the tenth anniversery I would be over the hump, but alas it was not to be, and I can’t honestly say today I’m now over that hump. Lord forgive me.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And now our embassy in Libya has been burned down. And our ambassador was murdered.

    Don’t think about it.

    Haven’t we already said all there is to say about 9/11? Aren’t we all tired of feeling bad about it? And some of us don’t live in New York, anyway, so why should we feel like targets?

    Libya’s a long way off, after all. It’s all far away from us. Don’t we need more friendship, less hate? But isn’t our current friendship with Islam a bit one-sided?

    Don’t think about it!

    “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”