Drained and Exhausted

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By Linda Nidiffer

How are you feeling?  I am flat drained of all joy and I am exhausted.  Like the Holocaust we must never forget what happened on September 11, 2001. I read so many testimonials from people who were a lot more engaged with the events of that day that my head is spinning in an emotionalmigraine vortex.

If we were alive on 9/11 we can tell our stories in vivid detail. My friend Jean’s story starts at the Orly Airport in France. She was coming back to the states on 9/11.  It took 10 days of going to the airport and finding an English speaking agent to ask “Is today the day?” Of course, all the telephone exchanges were busy. So busy they couldn’t get in touch with their families to tell them that all was pretty much okay.  They could have been stuck in Budapest! The most fun they had was doing laundry in the hotel sink! And yes, they were terrified they would never get home.

I had four students attend West Point Military Academy and one boyfriend (one of my students was a girl) When they deployed I was like a clowder of cats in a room full of rocking chairs.  I sent boxes after boxes to Afghanistan, Iran and Kuwait (nephew). Those boxes even contained knitted hatsdonated by my knitting group to give as gift to others. Those kids permanently set up shop in my head until the day they came home!  I don’t know what I would have been like with a child or spouse over there; the poor families.

We have grieved individually and as a nation for 20 years—as we should. We have left Afghanistan as we should, but as my mom used to say, “There are ways and there are ways.” To those of us who actually paid the bill for the men and material the exit looked as unorganized as a self–governed cub-scout pack.  My fifth and sixth grade girl-scout pack could have figured out better logistics.  The girls refused to do the traditional glitter infested crafty things but give them the challenge of how to hike 50 miles safely around town and end with an overnight stay in Turkey Run State Park (Indiana).   Each had a duty and each had a part in the plan.  Then my co-leader and I would get out of their way, answer questions and tell them when it was time to leave and turn in their plans for review.  They never let us down, left one behind, or left $1.00 behind because we couldn’t afford it

So it was a very schizophrenic remembrance for me. I was proud of the 9/11/01 unity in the country.  We had a common purpose. What do we have now?