Death · Expatria · Spirituality · Trauma · Wendy

In Memoriam

The Past, oil pastel on paper by Sezin, 2003
The Past, oil pastel on paper by Sezin, 2003

Eight years ago two planes flew into New York’s World Trade Centers killing thousands. I remember my then-boyfriend waking me up to tell me what had happened. It was 8am in California and so I laughed at the news, thinking that someone had pulled a Fight Club and destroyed two empty buildings. When he reminded me of the time difference, New York being a few hours ahead of Berkeley, I completely freaked out.

The year before, October 28, 2000, I was with one of my best friends when she was murdered in a random car jacking. When the Twin Towers fell, I was already horrifically traumatised. Not sleeping the nights through, flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares where the bitch who killed Wendy pulls a gun on me and murders me too.  I was a mess already. The 9/11 blow to the American psyche was the cherry on my sundae of pain.

The planes crashing into the building sent me over the edge. I knew exactly what it felt like to be in that kind of situation, trapped with Death and trying to find a way out. I understood how the people who jumped from the windows felt. That desperation, that horror. After Wendy’s death I shook for days. After 9/11, it was the same. I walked around Berkeley in a daze, seeing all of the mirror faces of shock and upset. Everyone was crying. In shops, in cars, in bars, people were weeping with an abandon I’ve only seen in people like myself who actually cry in public.

I also won’t forget how some guy came up to me in a rage, then shouted at me to “GO HOME.” It happened a lot back then. Anyone brown became an Arab Terrorist. Remember all the stories of Sikh shop owners who’d been beaten up or worse, murdered?At the time, Berkeley was home. What that random man said further upset my already shaky sense of balance and belonging in a country that had, to date, traumatised me beyond belief.

I had already been struggling with the issue of “belonging” in America. I carry a US passport, my mother is a Milwaukee-ite,  if there was anywhere I should have “belonged” or at least have a right to live within, then it would be the USA. That random dude’s bitter “GO HOME” threw me into an even bigger loop of distress.

September 11, like October 28, brings up a lot of emotions for me. A lot of sadness, regret, loss that I don’t expect I will ever get over, I only hope that the living with it will get easier.

I send out prayers to everyone who lost someone in the September 11 attacks, to all those who have lost someone in a gun crime, and anyone who has ever lost a loved one in any circumstance. Oh my Goddess, I know how much it hurts and how much it will always hurt. Nine years after Wendy’s death and I still can’t write about what happened without crying. But I’m here, and I’m writing, drawing, dancing, singing. I’m living my life as fully as I can. I’d like to think that Wendy is proud of me and all I’ve accomplished. I hope all the 9/11 Families can say the same, and if not then I pray they will one day find that peace in living. That is my prayer on this day, September 11.

The world is not the same without you, Wendy-Bird. Loving you, thinking about you, missing you. As always, please tell River I said “Hi” and give him a hug for me. Your hugs are still the bestest ever.