Survivor’s guilt

So it’s been 17 years. Babies that were born after their parent died will be graduating this year. Last year, most of them probably started driving. Next year they’ll be adults.

Me? I kinda forgot.

It’s not 100% my fault. I mean, I’ve had the last three and a half days off work. The date escaped me. I didn’t mean to forget. But I forgot.

I wasn’t too terribly affected by the tragedy. Yeah, the news of it woke me from a sound sleep. I stared dumbfounded at the TV as one tower went down, then the other. My jaw gaped as the Pentagon got hit. My mind was blown.

I didn’t personally know anyone affected by the attacks then. (My husband, who I met nearly 8 years ago, was stationed on a ship in the Persian Gulf on that fateful day.) I was isolated, safe and sound in my parents’ house in northern Alabama. New York, DC, and Pennsylvania were, like, forever away. They were concepts. Places I’d passed near or driven through. Not real.

So why do I feel like a total jerk for forgetting? If I didn’t know anyone affected and wasn’t there, why should I remember? Does this make me a selfish, unfeeling, insensitive, unpatriotic so-and-so? Maybe. But maybe not.

Wanna know what story from the days and months after touched me the most? It was one I read I want to say in Newsweek, but it could have been elsewhere; it was the story of a seeing eye dog who guided people out of the building when the smoke blinded and terrified them.

That dog is, more than likely, long since dead, as are all the search-and-rescue and cadaver-sniffing dogs that touched me when I saw them crying on the news.

Yeah. I was more emotional hearing about the rescue dogs whose feet were getting cut up on debris as they searched for life where there eventually was none left than I was about the families who lost that life. Dogs. Not people. What’s wrong with me?

Probably nothing. It’s probably just a thing. I didn’t know anyone affected, like I said, so the whole thing was distant to me. I shouldn’t expect myself to be saddened by the date. I’m holding myself up to standards that have been set by a media-hyped society. Everything’s IN YOUR FACE, so everything should affect everyone…right?

One of these days I’ll stop feeling guilty at not feeling guilty. I’ll stop chiding myself for forgetting. 

One of these days.

But not today. Not just yet.