Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Every year, probably for the rest of my life, I will be reminded of the exact date of death of a friend of mine. It's been four years. She had been my boss when I worked for a nonprofit library and defied every stereotype of librarianship anyone would care to toss up. Stylishly dressed, with a wry sense of humor and a collection of tattoos, she loved sunny days that allowed her to ride her motorcycle to work.

She died in a traffic accident as she returned from a memorial ride September 11, 2002, when a semi lost control and turned over onto her. And I wonder how many deliberate attacks it would take to equal the death toll of our roads, of the deprivation of our inner cities, the lack of access to healthcare...

Today, as the president of the United States of America uses the tragic death of thousands to justify the deaths of thousands more, I will remember how afraid I was that day. I remember worrying that my husband might have been in the subway under the Pentagon at that moment. I remember being afraid that my Muslim relatives in New York wouldn't be safe. I remember the terrifying silence in my apartment, punctuated by the sound of jet fighters. I remember calling my family to reassure them that I was fine.

And I remember the relief of September 12, 2001, as I found something useful to do. Some friends of mine picked me up and we headed to a Red Cross donation point, where we distributed donated food to the donors, helped create lists for the Red Cross workers, and kept people entertained. I learned how to make balloon animals, we face painted using grease paint from a theatrical supply store, made up puns, and did what we could: juggling, balancing, that kind of thing. I felt a little like the juggler of Notre Dame - I couldn't do anything big, but I could make balloon animals, face paint, balance, and tell silly stories. I could make dolls out of scraps lying about. I could make announcements for the staff. I could smile and help other people to do the same.

In the same way, I can't bring Ann back, but I can remember her.


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