I cried tonight

· Music

I was watching the Frontline documentary on how 9/11 impacted the religious faith of various people involved either directly (such as those who lost loved ones) or indirectly (the rest of us who were terrified by the diabolical spectacle) when a Conservative rabbi started singing a text with the intonations of a cantor, as if part of a liturgy. The words of his litany were taken from voicemail and answering-machine messages left from the airplanes and the burning buildings, final words of love and fear and longing, last attempts to make contact one final time and to say the unsayable at last.
I began welling up. I didn’t fight it. I didn’t know these people but I know what it is to be human, and “I don’t think I’m going to make it” and “I love you, mommy” – I know what those things mean. I became those people. I was frightened. I thought about despair and hopelessness and imminent death and of reaching out across the emptiness that divides us and trying to touch someone one last time and the tears started leaking down my cheeks and I let them and I didn’t wipe them away at first but let them dry there and thought how small this offering was, this tiny catharsis, this understanding, this sorrow, this embrace.
The rabbi said he sings these words every morning. He considers them sacred and pure. I love you, mommy.

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