Ten years is a long time, isn't it? And yet how much of it has gone by in a headlong blur, speeding away faster and faster on a journey: to god knows where, from a day that has changed us all, for better or worse.
Ten years seems like a lifetime away for me. It really was a different life. I was married to Jeff; Joshua and Heather were both in elementary school; we were living in our house in the quasi-cul-de-sac in Newark, Delaware. Jeff worked for Citigroup, I stayed home and wrote gaming material, primarily Shadowrun
. We had no pets. We made regular treks to 4QF. We practiced our respective religions/spiritual beliefs.
Our friend Tom was still very much alive. He wouldn't overdose on heroin for another 3 years, 6 months and approximately 2 weeks.
Today, I'm a different person. Who I am, at core, hasn't changed...but so much else has. In some ways I've been tempered, and in other ways I'm figuring out who I am, again. (For example: I have a particular writer's voice, which has taken me my whole life thus far to develop. As a designer, though...I'm having to figure it out, very fast.) I'm now married to Alex. Joshua has graduated high school; Heather is a junior. Jeff is married to Joanna and living in West Virginia, and I live in Georgia. They live close enough to still visit the Farm, but I understand they can still only do so infrequently due to money. Me, I really can't at all - I was happy for the brief visit there while attending Joshua's graduation.
I still have spiritual beliefs, but my practice has fallen very far by the wayside. It's not due to lack of interest, however, because I do miss it. I struggle with figuring out how to integrate it into my current life, which is terribly full of another of life's changes: being back in school. As of now, I'm a Senior at SCAD. I've got a 3.37 GPA in my major (Interior Design) and a 4.0 in my minor (Art History), making my overall GPA a 3.5. Graduating cum laude, if I can maintain the kinds of grades I'm getting, is entirely within my grasp.
I don't struggle with remembering Tom, though. For a few years, though I hadn't been as close to him as some, his death was still a bit raw. I think going through a separation and divorce a year after his death kept it a bit raw for me because I wasn't just separating from Jeff: I was separating from a life
. And so memories of Tom would surface from time to time, and though they were good memories that made me smile, I recognize that I missed him. We all did. He left a hole in our lives.
These days, well...I haven't forgotten Tom so much as forgotten to mourn. I've got so much going on that sometimes I'm lucky to remember what I need for the day, much less anything outside of interior design and Alex. Months will go by, and a stray bit of Flogging Molly, or remembering I have a bottle of Frangelico (which I also forgot I have, sitting on the top of my fridge), will remind me: Oh yes, Tom's dead, isn't he?
And I give him a mental hug and go on.
I figure that, wherever Tom's at, he's just fine. And so are we.
The tragedy of 9/11 was a lot more shocking, a lot more severe in scale and scope, than a friend's overdose. And yet: it's those individual deaths, that personal shock in such numbers, that kept the events of that day so raw not just for the families, friends and loved ones of the victims, but for the rest of us as we've borne witness to their stories played and replayed in the media. We can argue about how necessary or unnecessary that was, or still is, but we can't say for certain just how much we should have learned, how much we should have healed, from that day. We all have our own ways of managing.
What I hope, however, is this: with the completion of the building at Ground Zero (the memorial, the museum, the new transportation hub and the new skyscraper), everyone affected can really begin to heal. To make acknowledgment, make peace, and find new hope and new lives.
I associate Tori Amos's "Toast" with Tom; I think he doesn't mind, or care, that I now offer "Toast" on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Let us honor the deceased with love and a commitment to making our lives something they'd be proud of.