Monday, September 12, 2011

Reflections on 9/11 and Serena

Yesterday was filled with memorials and testimony to loss on that day like no other, when the scale of skyscrapers and all the modernity and abundance it embodied crumpled. If only it had been walls, computers, and glass alone that had disintegrated.

If only the antipathy back and forth had ended with the sacrifice that day. If only the mind and heart of Americans understood that when Bush said "We are right," he spoke half-truth. We have not always been on the side of freedom and democracy, here or abroad, and there are families all over the globe who have mourned loved ones too, even if they did not occupy tall buildings when dictators we supported and support besieged them. There is so much to grieve.

We can be proud to be American and live in this land without walking and talking righteousness. We can also be humble about our mistakes and the fact that we do not own the corner of tragic loss. I do not agree that the thousands of deaths on that day in 2001 constitute the worse time in our history. That day does not erase all the days of the enslaved, all the bodies on the floor on the Atlantic, nor the Native lives today ending in suicide,liver demise, and despair. All lives are precious.

On the bumper of my car is a sticker that says 'God Bless Everyone. No Exceptions."

The water that flows from the sides of the squares marking the space of the once World Trade Center is a beautiful choice of elements, for water has the power to reconcile and to heal. I will pay tribute in person there and pray for all victims of terrorism, worldwide.

Even as the tenth year commemoration service took place and the media saturated the airwaves with images and stories etched on that day forward, I chose to focus elsewhere, including the Women's Final at the Open. I looked forward to seeing Serena clench the title, having played so fierce the entire tournament, her gratitude at being alive and playing evident, in her voice, her arm stroke, and her fluid feet. I wondered too if she carried a special energy for Venus who had to lay down her racket in the tournament. But Serena didn't have it yesterday. I muted the sound off and on when I couldn't bear it. She has a temper when she feels wronged and I can relate, but I felt so proud of the grace she modeled when interviewed on the Court next to her opponent. I know she wasn't nearly as accepting of her loss as she projected, but she was good enough to smile and be humble, and that let me feel she was far from crushed. It let me feel peace.