I remember the flags that appeared in the days after 9/11, a mass blooming of patriotism throughout the streets of Boston where I lived at the time. I remember the candles in the streets, the photographs and memorabilia that coalesced in Harvard Square, Davis Square, everywhere, like a coral reef of grief.
I remember the sense of uncertainty, the sickening loss, the understanding that no one person or country is immune to the worst acts of inhumanity, but also that we are all capable of reaching out to others as human beings to endure and overcome. I remember the ugliness, the fear and hate expressed, the impulse to act and make someone pay, the rush to war and the costs that we still bear today.
Hearing the news that morning in the kitchen of a gourmet deli where I was preparing food for the day’s meals, I was stunned along with my coworkers, customers and strangers. We were all connected to this moment. I sought news, balance, purpose. I cooked, I fed other people and put energy into providing sustenance for the days ahead. That was my purpose, my way of getting through the horror when I was separated from family and friends in Kansas City.