Courage: A Sister’s Prayer

After:

Firefighters have died. Police officers have died.

Papers and papers are blowing around the streets.

People are donating blood that is in short supply.

The Twin Towers no longer stand . . . what’s next? A missile attack while everyone’s looking elsewhere?

Those that survive will bear years of survivor guilt.

The Nine-Inch Nails lyrics popped into my head: Bow down before the one you serve you’re going to get what you deserve.

A teen stood in black boots with a black Nine-Inch Nails tee shirt on in front of the school where I passed on my way home. Once inside, I turned on the CD player and listened to the song, “Head Like A Hole.”

I called Aunt Rose. My aunt said my brother M. is at his firehouse right now.

Firefighters have died.

Police officers have died.

A triage area has been set up at Chelsea Piers.

“A million tons of rubble fell down on people.”

“Hundreds have lined up to give blood.”

People walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get home.

How can I trust?

How can I serve God best unless I do not wear my faith on my sleeve?

My life will not ever be the same. None of ours will.

Allah, God, Yahweh, the Lord, Jehovah, Buddha . . . all are one and the same.

Whose God is any better? Whose mission more sacred? What has anyone done to you?

Black, White, Asian, Caucasian, Gay, Straight, make love, not hate.

Oh, I am glad I had the courage to follow my vision and get away from that life as I had known it. The different drummer I march to now beats a tune I cannot forsake: to join my God in liberating others from stigma and oppression.

When I die, it will not be in vain. I will have done everything in my power to rise up and fight these obstacles.

None of us are crazy-these terrorists are the insane ones, for they have used your Word to justify killing innocent people.

Cardinal Egan, on the radio, is cool, collected, and offers wise words: “We are in the hands of God.” He asks us to understand that good can come of this.

I shut off the radio now. It is hot again. I wear my long polyester black skirt and red tee shirt.

God bless my cellulite!

God bless my panty lines!

God bless my funky red plastic eyeglasses!

God bless the downtrodden!

God bless the heroin addicts!

God bless the Arabs!

God bless my meager salary that puts food on the table and clothes on my back.

God bless all of us, and bless all of our imperfections.

Evening:

I called Mom. M. is now in Manhattan. “He is trained,” she tells me. My brother is licensed to be an EMT as well; he’d gone to school for that before he became a firefighter.

I kneel at the side of my bed and pray aloud.

88 AM radio:

“They are still operating in a search-and-rescue mode.”

I cry to God: “How could we have veered so far from your plan for us?”

He knows the seed was planted long ago.

My throat is thick, the apartment is hot-I have every window open.

Will I sleep tonight? Against my will: I am so tired now. I do not trust. I will sleep anyway.

Night:

My friend Samia called. I told her my brother is a firefighter and has been dispatched to Manhattan. We talked. She said, “It’s the work of a coward to kill innocent people.”

I responded, ” A coward? You know what they said.”

“Yes,” she told me.

Samia is a Muslim.

At 8 p.m. I turn on the radio. This is unfathomable. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. I will keep the radio on this evening. I am so tired. It takes an act of courage to continue.

This day re-affirms my belief that I’m here to be compassionate. The future is not secure for any of us now.

“About 200 firefighters and police are presumed dead.”

“There are literally hundreds of people who will not come home from Manhattan tonight.”

What matters most for us? God’s final plan: unconditional love.

It is indicated that members of Osama Bin Laden’s team may be responsible.

“Half of the firefighters who responded first on the scene may be dead.”

Later:

I am afraid to call D., who is pregnant with M.’s child. Two hundred firefighters, the first ones in, are declared dead; ninety-eight police officers are missing.

I want to talk to God; I want him to speak to me.

Why? Why? Why?

I will not rest until I know my brother is okay. How can I sleep? I will try. It is only 10:30 p.m. and I am exhausted from listening. I am so tired.

The morning after:

I’m alone in the kitchen at work. I call the hotline for the families of firefighters.

M. is NOT on the list of the missing. M. is alive.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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