Time is a construct. It’s a concept developed by humans to keep track, count, measure, and communicate. We also use instances in time to attempt to accurately remember. Humanity has many flaws and we’re all afflicted by the loss of time and an inability to retain the sharp details of experience.
The farther away we get from an experience, the more the truth of it dissolves into a mix of perceptions based on all that has happened since.
People may ask, “Where were you on that day?” And you might remember but how much do you really recall? What did you have to eat or drink? We’re you alone and depressed and just trying to get through the morning? Did you stop by the store on your way to work to buy a Carmel apple to enjoy as an afternoon snack?
Did you forget about that apple as you huddled around a radio with coworkers in the room next to your office, listening as hundreds of people scrambled for their life as the towers came down.
We’re you full of horror or sadness or disbelief. Or we’re you lost in space and time just trying to comprehend the news. Did you fall into a state of helplessness and kick into auto pilot.
Perhaps you arrived home from work that day and had a conversation with your spouse who was also struggling to make sense of all the chaos. And after having brief communication with family, decided there wasn’t anything that could be done and so why not drive to Lincoln as planned to have dinner with them.
Maybe you sat around a Japanese steakhouse grill table while the chef sliced and chopped meat and vegetables and rice right in front of you. Did you take turns letting him flip shrimp into your mouths with a spatula? Did he spin and toss eggs into his hat? Did he make a volcano of fire with a stack of onion rings.
You’re sure you had a soda with your stir fry. After all you were 3 months pregnant. That was before you gave up soda. Come to think of it, that day predates a lot of changes in your life. Big and small. You had two children—a girl and a boy. Got a divorce. Went to Europe alone. Fell in love a few times and had your heart broken. Learned how to be independent and found out what truly makes you happy—makes you sing.
There’s a lot you remember but do you remember the drive home that night. Or tuning into the news for answers. It would be days and weeks and months before there were any real answers. Followed by a war.
You wouldn’t really know the whole story until about 18 years later when you visit New York City with your new fiancé and his kids and yours. You walk through the 9/11 memorial past pictures and displays and giant bent pieces of Steele that were once support beams for the twin towers. You walk past a fire engine that was partially crushed presumably by concrete and debris that came down as the towers fell. You listen to the audio on your headset as you walk and try and hold back the tears.
You walk beside the daughter you were carrying inside you on that day. And you think about how unfair life is that you get to be with her, here and now, while so many other people lost their lives or loved ones. It makes you both sad and grateful. Grateful for your life. And grateful for time.
There’s a wall at the memorial, as you descend to the deepest level that has a different color of blue tile representing each individual that lost their life during the tragedy that would come to be known by the name nine-eleven. The words on that mosaic say “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”
But time does not have memory. Time is a construct and does not live or think or remember. Only people remember. And it is what they remember that is passed on through to others. The only way that the memory of those people and that day will survive the test of time, is through stories and retelling and words of people who were alive at that moment. And their children who will, in turn, tell their children.
No time shall erase you from the memory of that day.