my thoughts on this day

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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Wednesday, September 11, 2002 at 1:41PM :

A week before September 11, last year, a childhood friend of mine passed away - an ethnically Egyptian (Copt) boy who was born & raised in the States. When I found out that Michael was gone, that a heart attack had silently snuffed out his young life in the middle of his sleep after a night out with his friends, I went home immediately & for the rest of the afternoon & evening, cried & pounded the hell out of the pillow on my bed. I was so mad, so angry that he was gone, that his body could be in the earth, rotting away at such a young age. The boy was so vibrant, so healthy, so hilarious, so talented - why him? He played soccer & was one of the brightest kids on the math team in high school... & I remembered when we met - we were forced to be stand partners in orchestra in middle school, & I'll never forget how much we joked & played pranks on each other. He was like a little brother to me.

& now, he is gone.

His parents would be forced to walk past his room every day, to clean up & go through his belongings... his older brother would have to negotiate life without the company of his only brother... it must have been incredibly hard - & it still is, I'm sure.

Then September 11 rolled around. I happened to see it all live on the morning news while waiting for an early morning car appointment at a local repair shop. It was so unbelievable. I called my mother after the 2 planes hit, & we both expressed worry about the rescue workers entering the buildings before the buildings finally collapsed... it was obvious the buildings wouldn't be standing for long... I was a bit worried about 2 of my friends from undergrad who worked there - fortunately they're both alive. I wondered, too, how many people would be going home that evening to see an empty room, to be forced to go through a loved one's belongings, to avoid looking at pictures of the person one moment (to retain one's sanity), but feel compelled to view the pictures later (to once again fondly go over the features of that person's face which was no longer) &, like me, pound the hell out of a pillow in anger & sadness, crying so loud, but unable to stop.

A few days passed, & I had already been concerned about how this incident would affect politics in & with the Middle East, how anger would be taken out on innocent Arab-Americans, as well... I remembered how the Gulf War caused some problems for our family merely because my father was born & raised in Iraq. In fact, it still does affect my family to this day - the subtlest problems are the hardest to overcome. So, I knew this would probably be happening to other families of Middle Eastern descent.

Moving on with the story... On campus, there was a meeting about Islam, & I took the opportunity to attend. A lot of pro-American, anti-Middle Eastern statements were made by political science professors... a bunch of old crony bullshitters. & all the time they were talking about Middle Easterners from a completely Western viewpoint, I could only think of my friend Michael, how incredibly precious he was to everyone who knew him, how he didn't fit those stereotypes, & that this was so blasphemous after his death. When the professors started talking about "terrorism" at the meeting, I asked them to please define "terrorism" - and continued on to say that it seemed as if the US gov't was guilty of practicing terrorism, too, so what can we do about that, especially as citizens of the US? A bright young Turkish boy & an Egyptian law student both debated with the professors as well. After the meeting, I approached the Egyptian law student, an incredibly beautiful & bright young lady. We exchanged ethnic information - what country my dad was from & where she was from, what ethnically religious background she had, etc. When she said she was Copt, I immediately replied that a Coptic friend of mine had recently passed away (he was still on my mind all the time)... She asked what his name was, & when I said it, she told me he was her cousin... it was a very strange, but at the same time wonderful, bonding experience. Similarly, I realize that September 11 has caused many other people to bond in this country, people from similar & diverse backgrounds, in spite of the bullshit, simplistic, warmongering rhetoric that we're exposed to every day from the media. The events of September 11 should never have happened, just as my friend's death should never have happened, but since these events can't be changed or taken back, all we can do is move forward in peace in the name of those we loved, recognizing the commonalities that exist between all humans.

-- Lilly
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