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3:00 am
memories of the past, hope for the future
by robert a. melos
pop culture

Okay, almost 3:00 AM. Now normally I don't sleep well on the best of days, so finding me awake at 3:00 AM is not unusual. The world is a much nicer place at night, in the dark, or moonlight, when a majority of the so-called civilized world is tucked safely in their beds, blissfully unaware of the worlds that are transpiring just outside of their ticky tacky homes.

So finding it hard to sleep tonight is not unusual. From my backyard I can see the twin towers of light commemorating 9/11. They are almost invisible in the night sky, just glimmers, as if ghost images. Then the occasional cloud cover comes in, and the clouds are brightly illuminated by the twin lights coming to rest against the strati like two columns holding up the clouds.

Yup, I'm awake. I'm trying not to think about three years ago, because I still well up with tears. Now I'm not given to crying, and haven't done so in many instances when I could've and should've, but I still feel like crying when I see the images of 9-11-01 being replayed on the evening news, or see the memorials and hear the lists of names being read.

I don't know if anyone I knew died that day. With the large number of people from the area, I’m sure I knew of some of them, but I don’t personally have any knowledge of people I’ve been close to having lost their lives. Instead I know some people who were lucky, as it were. I know my next-door neighbor’s daughter, who worked as a secretary on the 30th floor of the south tower. I know her mother was frantic from 9:00 AM in the morning until 7:00 PM on the evening of September 11th 2001 when her daughter finally got home to Brighton Beach and called her mother to let her know she was alive.

I know my cousin, who worked for Merrill Lynch out of the Princeton office, who was supposed to be at a meeting at 8:00 AM on that day in one of the towers, but at the last minute her meeting was changed to the Citibank Building because it would be more convenient for some of the people who were already running late. I know my aunt who sat glued to the television until she heard from my cousin at 3:00 PM that day.

I know my friend Ferne, who’s husband worked for NYNEX in the below ground levels of the towers and had been unemployed for more than a year when his former boss called him and asked if he could return to work on September 10th 2001 on a part-time basis. Unfortunately her husband had been suffering from a fatal form of cancer and, even though he planned to go back to work while undergoing chemotherapy, had an adverse reaction to a chemo treatment and was lying in a bed in Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where he would remain until his death in January of 2002, watching the events unfold on television.

Yet while these people whom I knew and cared for survived the events of that day, I still felt like crying. I was touched by the events just as was the rest of the world, but I didn’t experience the full scope of the loss as so many others did, nor do I feel it today. Yet I do feel a sense of loss.

What happened on that day was wrong. It was an event that never should’ve happened. Not because it happened in America, or because so many innocent people died, but because a world where suicide terrorists exist and are willing to die in the name of their god is wrong. Every religion I had studied valued life as a sacred gift given by their god, and suddenly I was introduced to a radical religious faction that was a throw back to a more barbaric time when sacrificing a human being was considered a high honor. To be the sacrifice to your god would assure your entry into whatever promise-land your scripture taught, and by dying in the name of your god you were considered chosen.

Well that’s just fucked up. And everything that has followed since that date, every action taken by American leaders leading to the current world situation is fucked up. But I’m not going to condemn the politicians here, or condemn the Muslim religion for helping to create the mess through lunatic fringe elements who condone suicide as a means of getting their message across, or the Saudis because a Saudi national claimed responsibility for planning the event. Instead I’m going to continue to watch the ghost lights, the reminder of the events of that day, and be thankful for my neighbor’s daughter, and for my cousin, and for Ferne’s late husband, all of whom lived beyond the event because of whatever karmic intervention in their lives.

The lights are beautiful against the full dark sky and stand not only as memorial to the past, but a beacon to a future time when the world can perhaps agree that all life is sacred and all people should be celebrated for their ability to co-exist in their diversity. Maybe I’m too optimistic in my vision, or perhaps it’s just blurred by the tears I weep for the losses I do feel?

But I’m not going to share my negativity tonight, because we should all be looking to the positive future. I know there is one.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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