The LA Times Tumblr published my 9/11 reader submission about my 9/11 memory. They chose to excerpt what I thought was the heart of the submission, the conclusion of the piece:
“And then there was the awkwardness of class conversations – of trying to understand, but encountering the lesson that there are no words for some human emotions, that the lack of words or the struggle to find them holds the most truth.” – Freshman Year Wake Up
I was a freshman in college when the towers fell. Fast forward all these years and the truth is that finding the right word or words for 9/11 is still difficult at best.
As the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, I grew up hearing stories about war – inevitably fully cognizant that my life and its circumstances stem from the struggles between conflicting ideologies, man’s violent tendencies, humanity at its worst while two (or more) sides contend that their side is the best. But it is one thing to have heard stories of a country once removed, one that no longer really exists as my parents remember it; it is a whole other thing to be living on your country’s soil, to live through a major violent act, and feel
the repercussions of that act echo from East to West (and around the world).
The images are not faded stock footage. The way the memory rattles around in some hollow of my heart, crafted by a moment that can only shatter innocence, is the same sound of emptiness that rattled today. I was singing in a 9/11 Rememberance Service today and though the music and the words filled that hollowness a little, it also brought awareness that it is still there…that it still lingers.
Ten years ago it was difficult to understand and it will probably always be that way, but I think now, more so than then, I can embrace it for what it is. The world is made up of good and bad and the passing of time has lent me experiences in both. But ultimately, I have learned that while the sound of emptiness may linger, there is a beauty and wholeness that lingers still.