The only thing I couldn’t leave New York without seeing was the World Trade Center Memorial. It’s worth the trip, for that alone. Never have I felt such heartache as I did in that moment. The grief living in those gaping holes is profound. It’s staggering. It will bring you to your knees.
It did not take long for the weeping to begin. It set in, like a hand wrapped around my throat, constricting my airways, tightening the alveolar membranes—strong enough to choke upon. The souls of thousands whisper to you with the powerful stream of water pouring down into great scars that mark the earth.
World, I hurt for you here. As if my tears could ever do the work that so needs doing. I wish they could. I wish this mercy—this compassion—this outright love could heal the aching of our hearts. But it falls short, each and every time.
A mother’s name was there. Beside the cold carved words “Unborn Child.” A thing like that makes it hard to stand at all. A rose was in her name, to celebrate her birthday. A white one. For beauty, purity, and strength. For innocence. For new beginnings, and remembrance. For reverence. A white rose means, I’m thinking of you. Always, always thinking of you.
Beside a grave like this, you feel small. Smaller than you’ve ever felt before and you wonder at a tragedy so great that it brings nations to their knees.
You cannot love the dead. You can love their memories, but only the living can receive the mercies of our hearts. You can only love the souls who can respond to this great calling. Perhaps, if we pulled up a little more of the good stuff from the gallows of our hearts, tragedies like this could be prevented. Perhaps.
But not undone. The works of anger, of cruelty, of hatred, cannot be reversed. They can be built upon and covered up. But not undone. But this memorial didn’t build upon the anger. It exposes it. It shows the too often cruel aspects of our natures in the names that lie engraved in marble.
No, you cannot love the dead. Not in the truer sense of what it means to love. But we can adore the living, so that these crimes are never done again. And that, my friends, is all I know.