Monday, 12 September 2011

I could not have written

anything on the morning of 12th September 2001. Here Downunder our day is ahead of the day in Europe and the Americas. It was much later in the previous day when we learned of what had happened in New York.
It was several hours after that before the mother of my godchildren managed to get a message to me telling me that her husband was not at work in one of those buildings. He had flown out of New York earlier in the morning. Would I, she asked, let her parents know they were safe? She had not been able to reach them.
I did. I heard her mother scream and then start to sob in the background and her father say, "Thankyou Cat" before he also broke down. Later we all agreed we felt guilty for feeling some sense of relief even though we were shocked.
I had to wait two more days before I knew that two other people I knew were safe. They were not friends, rather relatives of friends. All the same I worried. My father worried with me.
My father is old enough to have seen WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Israeli border conflicts, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He no longer watches the news. He skims the conflict reports in the papers we get. Conflict worries him even more than natural disasters.
My father is not a pacifist. He says he would still do what he could to defend his family. I do not suppose I am a pacifist either. I will fight for the things I believe in. My weapon of choice would be words rather than a gun or a knife. So, why could I not have written anything?
My father tells me he can remember very little about my mother's illness. He can remember almost nothing of her death or her funeral service. He has no real recollection of the months following it all when he spent hours in the garden or just sitting outside staring into space but did not enter his woodworking shed.
My father seemed to "come good" quite suddenly. Someone 'phoned. They needed some timber cut up for an important piece of work at the cathedral.
"Could you help?" this man asked my father. He did not know my father well but he knew my father has a circular saw.
My father opened the shed. They did the work. My father returned to his shed. Someone had needed him.
It was several days after 9/11 when my friend in New York was able to reach me again. She thanked me for 'phoning her parents and said she had now been in touch herself. She had reassured them of her safety. Things started to look a little better then. Although she did not say the actual words I heard her saying, "I needed you then."
We all need to be needed.


Jayne said...

Very true - we all need to be needed. I do like the way you write. x

catdownunder said...

I am wondering if the need to be needed in those cicumstances is part of the "guilt" thing Jayne? I deal with people working in disaster and aid situations all the time but this was not a situation where we were needed in the same way and I think we all felt helpless.