I was home sick the day the Challenger exploded.  I was watching videos of my parents’ trip to China when the phone rang. Mrs. Tolle calling to tell Mom to put on the news. 14360123

Or maybe Mrs. Tolle was there with us.

I can’t remember the details except those trails of smoke in the sky.


On September 11, I walked across Oberlin, OH to work at the college bookstore, a short stroll across a parking lot.  I had not turned on the TV.  I was standing at the front cashier’s desk when the textbook manager called to say, “A plane hit the Pentagon, too.”

I had no context.  “Like Mars Attacks?” I said.

Then, the whole story.  And that image of the plane coming in low, the shatter of glass, seared into my brain.


Today, I sit a bit unbuckled by Boston.  I feel scant, inadequate. I don’t know how to mourn because this is not my place, not my people.  And yet it is.

I have not looked for images to remember here.  My mind is painted with enough blood and explosions and the crumpled, broken faces of the scared and shocked.  I’ve seen Newtown, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Croatia, Rwanda, Bali.  It is never the same.  It is always the same.

Tragedy accrues, it seems.

Tears press the back of my eyes.  They will fall, as they did last night.

But now, I am numb. No, overtaken. No, silent. Quiet. Letting myself feel instead of turning away. Acting as if it is all the same, even though, of course, it is all the same.

I will not refuse to grieve. I will not refuse to live.

I suppose this is the gray of life.

Shadowy, hard, and real.

How are you honoring today and the tragedies of yesterday, last year? All the years?