It's been two years, though some days it feels like longer. Not because I have trouble remembering, but because it often seems impossible to forget. Like it was with J.F.K.'s death in a time before I was born, everyone knows "what they were doing when they first heard" that planes had flown into the World Trade Center towers.
I was at work, talking to an acquaintance online, who happened to have her T.V. set on. When the first plane crashed and the news broke, she told me what happened. I didn't get much more out of her, probably because she was glued to the news. I remember wondering how many people had died. Then the second plane hit, and I knew immediately that neither one had been an accident.
But I didn't know what it meant, then. All I knew, and what continued to be revealed to me as the day progressed and the tragedy grew worse, was that many, many people had died. And I kept seeing them not so much as human beings, but as beings of thought and emotion and hope, each one with a world as big as mine. I guess you could say I saw them as souls...not being terribly religious, it's a strange label for me to apply, but it fits well enough.
I also saw that every one of them was blameless for the political and idealistic agendas that motivated their murder.
Above life (in the biological sense), I respect dreaming and hope. I discover more by listening to the nuances of emotion than by listening to the articulation of words. The only problem with doing that sort of listening is that I tend to hear, and understand. So, it haunts me when dreams and hopes and emotions are crushed by events under another person's control. No innocent that died during the tragic events of September 11th ever chose to put themselves on the front line. They had never made a purposeful decision to mark themselves for the possibility of the death that claimed them, nor was it any accident - no tragic quirk of fate that is wholly unavoidable because it could not be foreseen. On the matter of choice, perhaps a weak argument for those in the Pentagon could be made, that they were targets because of what the C.I.A. did every day. Or you could say the firefighters and police in New York City knew they may have to sacrifice themselves one day, so there is their choice. But that is exactly what makes all of them heroes...and to me each one is still an individual who possessed an entire world of hope and emotion.
So it haunts me. If this tragedy had been the first to affect me in such a way, it might or might not be easier to bear. I really don't know. But I have seen many lives drowning in a sea of choices that were not their own. I grew up watching the weight of disinterested and careless authorities breaking the will of innocent kids around me. And as dreams go, I know of none that survived except mine. As emotions go, I know of none that weren't warped, including mine. And it was not through their choices that this happened, but because of the motivations of others, motivations that placed these kids' thoughts and dreams on the chopping block. For me, there is little difference between biological murder and forcing an emotional death while still alive. Either way, in the end it is the same tragedy. My memory of these kids' spirits being destroyed piecemeal affect me on the same level as those lives that ended suddenly in the mass destruction two years ago.
In a similar way, to have hope in prison seems pointless, especially if you are looking at spending most of your life there. To know that Kirstin Lobato is in jail not because of the choices she made, but because of severe injustice...well, it strikes a chord within my mind. I've seen this before, this ending of dreams, and September 11th tends to remind me that now everyone else has, too.
It cannot be allowed to end in this way. Kirstin deserves her chance to seek out whatever dreams she has, and her right to this was not made forfeit by any decision she made. And unlike those who died two years ago, her future can still be made free. I just trust she will hold onto her spirit long enough for those who are fighting for her to win.
And we will win.