We all know what today is – it’s the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on United States soil. Since the blue sky of that September morning on 2001, every year on this day I, like so many others, have paused to reflect on the lives lost, and the sacrifices made by the rescue workers.
Today, for me, it was a little different. Today, I am someone who knows what it’s like to lose someone I love to suicide. Today, I wondered about the 19 young men who hijacked those planes. More specifically, I wondered about the people who loved them. No matter how easy it is to vilify them (and nothing can possibly justify what they did that day) at some point, those young men were babies. Sweet little babies whose mothers crooned to them and loved them and dreamed of what their lives would be. At some point, those young men were boys who played with their friends, complained about their homework, sassed their parents. At some point, those young men looked at a girl, or another boy, and felt a tug of attraction.
No matter how awful their actions were, I believe that some of their loved ones, some of their mothers, fathers, grandparents, cousins or friends, are in the same hell that I am in. Asking themselves over and over why they did what they did, if something they said or did – or didn’t say or didn’t do – could have prevented the deaths, and kept those young men alive and whole.
We are all, in the end, human. Even those young men who got on those planes and pulled out box cutters and took so many lives. Even they were human. They are, and should be, part of the conversation about suicide. It’s easy, sometimes, to think that they are just OTHER, they are not like us, they don’t value life the same way. But cannot the same be said of Tony? He did not value his life the same way I value mine. I valued his life more than he did. If that weren’t the case, he’d still be here. Something inside of him was so lost and broken that it seemed like a better choice to give up his life than to hold on to it, to keep fighting.
I mourn today. I think of the way I felt that September day. This morning felt so similar in some ways. The sky a crystalline blue. And yet today, everything is different. Today I mourned, too, for those who mourn the hijackers. I hope that somehow they are healing.