We do not reveal the details, the count of seconds in each minute and minutes in each hour that we hear nothing, no word, no voice, no news.
We check the cell phone over and over. We stare at the television in horror. We glance at the time, vaguely aware that children are in school. We hear from friends. We listen to reporters. We wait. We wait some more.
The world is crumbling.
Little matters except those we love.
We will never be able to explain the loss of faith that takes place in those twenty-five thousand seconds during which we do not know if he is dead or alive.
Perhaps we underestimate their number, and the shallow, onerous ticking of our clocks. Perhaps we overestimate their number, and the shallow, onerous beating of our hearts.
When he calls, dismissing the worry, scoffing at the need to get in touch, deflecting any emotion and displaying the usual irritation at being inconvenienced, it is only the beginning of a middle that we didn’t see as an end.
There are moments when individuals and communities rise to acts of extraordinary courage, as happened in New York, and over Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon.
Has it really been a dozen years? Has it only been a dozen years?
There are moments when individuals reveal their priorities, their callousness, their values, their true selves which we prefer not to judge but comprehend, suddenly, as alien and unrecognizable.
There are shock waves that ripple outward, undercurrents that gather power, battles we undertake through action and narrative: We live in front of and inside and behind our stories, pick and choosing, paraphrasing with care.
Grief leaves a residue that we cannot separate: mourning for families and a nation; mourning for the death of dreams.
We may know our moments of marriage unraveling; we may be resigned to an upcoming end, with sorrow; we may be stunned into silence, acting out in ways we couldn’t have predicted, hoping for the best, determined to stand up for what we believe in, unaware of the storm that lies ahead much less for how long.
We reach for our children, for all the children.
We reach for our gods, if we are fortunate in knowing them.
We reach for poetry, a journey against the odds, an insistence on beauty – in the hope that it will keep us alive.