Edward remembers when the towers fell … A sort of poetry in prose. In memoriam.
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I remember when the towers fell.
I saw it happen seconds before, when the vision gripped my sister’s thoughts and filled my mind with painful images.
The pain never dulled when I saw it happen for real on TV. Or later, when the networks showed the video again, and again, and again. A horror show on display. With repeats, 24 hours a day. A true nightmare for one who doesn’t sleep.
I thought my sleepless nights meant there would be no more nightmares.
I was wrong.
I remember wishing there was something I could do to help; some way I could use my abilities to lessen the toll. To ease the pain. (Theirs or mine, I’m still not sure.)
I remember hearing the same thoughts in my father’s mind, as he agonized over the loss. He contemplated going there to help, wondering if he would be able to slip into the chaos unnoticed.
He’d made up his mind, in fact, to go to the fallen towers and try and only Alice could convince him to stay, after she’d seen what the consequences would be.
Carlisle argued that he didn’t care; that sacrificing his secret – his existence – was nothing compared to the loss he might prevent.
But it was too late, Alice said. Too many had already died and there was nothing he could do for the others except make them like us.
And they would resent him for eternity, she’d said. No one wanted to live forever with those kinds of memories. They would rather die.
I’d only witnessed the horror and I wondered how I would survive. If I even could.
I’d seen loss, before. When I was still human – young and alive and restless – I longed to join the front lines of the first Great War. I dreamed of combat. When the second war came, I was not so eager. By that time I had already killed; had already taken lives. And I’d seen the pointlessness of it. I’d experienced the grief and guilt of blood on my hands and in my throat.
But I remember the feeling of lead in the pit of my stomach when I learned about the bombs falling in Pearl Harbor; remember wanting to vomit. I remember the feeling of betrayal. I remember listening to Roosevelt over the radio and wishing I could have stopped the attack, somehow. Wishing I could die. Wishing I had not survived death to witness this.
The Nazi death camps.
The atomic bomb. The hydrogen bomb. Nuclear warfare.
I remember feeling angry at the world, and angrier still when more wars came.
Korea. Hundreds of thousands killed. Too many to keep track.
The debacle in Cuba, at the Bay of Pigs. Hundreds, maybe thousands lost. For nothing.
The Berlin Wall went up and years later it would fall, taking countless lives with it along the way. How many died trying to cross that barrier, hoping for freedom? For the greener grass on the other side?
I remember feeling nauseous every time I heard the growing body count in Vietnam. How the soothing voice of Walter Cronkite failed to soften the blow; to make the numbers seem less significant.
They were always significant.
The Killing Fields of Cambodia.
Israelis and Palestinians murdering each other over sand in the desert.
Protesters plowed down in Tiananmen Square for making their voices heard. Silenced for speaking up.
The Persian Gulf War. Hundreds of thousands killed. Countless others who survived but wished they hadn’t; who survived in one sense – but lost their lives in another, even if their hearts kept beating.
Waco, Texas. Oklahoma City. Columbine.
And then I saw the towers fall.
I saw the people fall, flinging themselves from the building to save themselves from the fire. From the rubble. To take their lives and their deaths into their own hands. To maintain some shred of dignity in their final moments. To turn their demise into a victory because they embraced it and made it their own.
I saw every human life aboard Flight 93 agree to sacrifice themselves, to save others. I saw it in my sister’s mind when they chose their deaths over countless other deaths.
I remembered why I stopped taking lives. I remembered why Carlisle saved mine.
Because even when the towers fell, even in our darkest hour on our blackest night, there was some small amount of good that prevailed.
There is always light.
I watched the towers fall. Then I watched as humanity picked up the pieces to rise again. And I prayed I could hold myself together.
All the kings horses and all the kings men.
We try. We limp along.
I’m not sure if we’ll succeed.
But we keep trying.
That is hope. Maybe that’s success.
We are crippled, still. Haunted, eternally.
Some of us, more than others.
But we persist. We prevail.
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Dedicated with eternal love for those who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy – and to those who fought in the aftermath of the fallen towers.