I’m watching the NBC special about flight 93. I’ve been trying to busy myself with something else while I watch–since I can’t manage to change the channel, can’t turn down the tv or stop watching this thing. I’m entranced, nearly hypnotized by how the program is put together, how it tries to make sense of a tragedy that happened five years ago. Its producers seem torn between letting this piece be a ritual of sorts, a way of helping those who lost loved ones–of helping all of those affected–work through grief, and letting this piece be a recreation, a dramatization, an attempt to solve a mystery with mere presumptions.
I’d like, very much, for this to be a piece about grief. I’d like for this day to be about grief. Instead it’s about revenge, it’s about what we’ve become–not a hunk of scar tissue, but instead a huddled group of frightened folks who crave safety. Paranoid. Constantly afraid. And I wonder where our grief has gone, what we’ve done with it, what the families of those who died have done with their grief. I wonder why something so monstrous, so completely devastating, hasn’t caused us to dip further into sadness. Why have most instead focused on potential future catastrophies? We can, of course, point to our government. This is the power that has deemphasized the natural paths that grief leads us on. This is the power that wants us to look ahead not with hope, but with fear. This is the power that has sensationalized loss.
Or so it may seem.
As I write this, I find my mind changing. I think of how angry I am that Scott died–not on 9/11, but a little more than two years later, of a thing in his brain no one knew about. I’m enraged that my life changed, that Scott was stolen from me, that everything I’d dreamed of was suddenly gone. And what was left was a mess of feelings and a mess of a life. I wanted revenge. But there was no one to attack, no one to yell at or hit.
You know the phases of grief; you know that anger is one. This, I think, is where our country is. While many of us have likely experienced most, if not all of the phases, we have collectively experienced only one phase–anger. That’s where the government and the media reside. That’s where they want us all to reside.
And I wonder: how do the families of those this program is focusing on handle it all on a day like today?
Yesterday was Scott’s 42nd birthday, a very sad day for me because I could not celebrate, could not go through the day as I would have liked to. I went to the cemetery, placed flowers on his grave. I performed my ritual, felt sadness, anger, denial. A couple years ago days like this were communal. I met with Scotts friends and family, shared stories about him, cried.
I’m really having a hard time writing this. I don’t feel like I’m saying what I want to say.
The communal grief act–on as large a scale as what’s happening today–is a strange thing, something I can’t understand. I wonder if it’s always like this, if the community as a whole can only experience one phase. I’m trying to think of other, similar situations and am coming up blank. Wars–different. 9/11 was a one day, sudden and massive loss. The victims of Katrina were lost over a period of days, weeks. But there was anger there, too, and for good reason. Only time will tell how we will look back on it. The tsunami of a couple years ago, I really couldn’t say. We didn’t get to hear much about grief. Instead we heard about damage, the quantifiable results of a tragedy.
I guess I’m wondering which is more true: is such a large community able to grieve together, really experience and share everything that grief brings with it? I’d venture to say no, mostly because of how different we, and thus, our experiences, are.
I’m really losing myself here. It’s not enough that I can’t figure out where I’m going with this; Petey is desperately trying to get my attention. It’s unfortunate that I’m writing such a post during play time.
In fact, I’m going to leave it at that for now. I’m going to choose to play rather than rationalize grief. Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s what we all should do.
Maybe that’s the problem I have with programs like this NBC special.