A short post written from my phone:
I was a junior at Lehigh University when 9-11 happened. I remember coming back from class, which was cancelled due to the attack, and seeing my roommates glued to the TV. They were horrified, crying, angry and distraught. They couldn’t understand what was happening, and as horrific as it was to watch they couldn’t turn the TV off either. My reaction, was a bit different.
I needed to get out of that space. I went for a 6 or 7 mile run around campus to try and clear my head. I tried to do work, and read and anything else that I could to take my mind off things… To try and feel normal, without being disrespectful. It was one of the saddest and most somber days of my life and yet I didn’t know how to let myself be consumed emotionally by the moment.
12 years later, on 9-11, 2013 I am sitting in the hospital next to my mother. On Saturday night she suffered a massive stroke, and while she’s stable, her condition is extremely poor. My mother, who lives alone, spent hours on the floor of the living room before anyone found her. She missed a critical 3 hour window to get treatment and is now left, more than likely, partially paralyzed. While everyone else around me is emotionally broken down, I again find myself trying to keep my mind moving forward. For the past 2 days I’ve taken business meetings, written presentations and gone to the gym. It is far from the fact that I don’t care, and much more to that the way I’ve learned to cope is by trying to be calm and rational and stay trying to maintain some normalcy.
When I went on that run through campus during 9-11, I remember being angry, almost livid, watching a few people (here and there) get beers or joke around. I couldn’t understand how they weren’t more effected by the moment. But I realize now, maybe they thought that about me. Maybe my family wonders that about me right now.
why is he typing on his phone from the hospital?
What I don’t think they realize is that this is my way of coping. This is my way of caring.
I went through a lot as a kid, and my way of getting through things was to stay positive – to try and find outlets that kept me from being depressed or from being consumed with questions there weren’t answers to. Then, when I could help, I would do anything I could. From give blood to cook food, to call on a friend I just met who sits on the board of the Kessler Foundation.
Grieving isn’t something I think we are all capable of doing, or maybe we just all express that emotion in different ways. Some people, a select few, may be so self-centered that they don’t even feel sadness, but I think the majority of people just don’t know how to express it. We are never really taught that, never really explained how to deal with these things.
9-11 and my mother’s stroke will forever be linked in my head. Not because they are tragedies of an equal nature, but they’re chronological relationship forced me to be aware of how I deal with highly emotional situations. It’s made me realize there really is no wrong way to express sadness or pain as long as long as it is genuine.