One of our oldest family friends who lost her son waiting for a heart lung transplant at CHOP the year I graduated from college said something to me years ago that stuck: never compare suffering. I keep hearing friends say that this is worse than 9/11. Having been in New York City on 9/11, even saying that out loud makes me want to vomit, and I have a hard time conceptualizing how in such a short period of time we can actually, as a collective people, go through something that is worse. So, I hope that you will forgive me if instead of blogging about voice overs or life as a working mom, today I will use my weekly blog post to attempt to deal with what I am struggling with, as others most be struggling too.
Intellectually I understand that the numbers of deaths from Covid-19 in my home state of New Jersey have now surpassed those from 9/11, but even hearing this over and over it does not feel real. According to NJ.com, as of this morning 846 people have died in NJ from the Corona Virus and 704 died on 9/11. On 9/11 I was a proud NYC resident living on the Upper West Side and Teahing History on the Upper East Side. Those statistics are also not great: according to Politico yesterday, 2700 New Yorkers perished on 9/11 and as of yesterday 2935 have succumbed to the corona virus. So yes, I get it, in terms of the numbers the virus is much worse.
If you ask most people, especially New Yorkers, where they were on 9/11, they can tell you precisely where they were and what they were doing when the towers were hit. I was with my department chair at the Nightingale-Bamford School, Kitty Gordon, for out weekly Tuesday morning. Her assistant Sharon interrupted us to tell us the news. We were shocked but we continued out meeting. I then went to teach my 8th grade American History class, and as the girls started to panic about their parents who worked in the area, I realized that my now husband then fiancee was across the street. For me, the horror of that day unraveled in a few hours. Harlan felt the impact of the second tower being hit at his desk and was up and running. Harlan saw things that day, as many New Yorkers did, that no human should ever see. He saw the giant gaping holes in the towers as they stood and he saw people making there terrifying exits. Harlan ran to the west side highway and then walked all the way up to me at Nightingale at 92nd and 5th Avenue. He was there at dismissal with his parents. Harlan and I then had to walk some students home to the west side. We were blessed. We survived as did our family.
For me, the time factor of the corona virus is different. 9/11 was a sudden shack. The attack was rapid and unexpected. In the aftermath people came together, but the attack was over. With covid-19, the attack is slow and lingering and one never really knows when it will strike and where the danger is. The pace seems to change everything. There are daily challenges and then within the struggle we grasp at silver linings. There is terror mixed with blessings. This “new normal” as so many call it is bizarre. For me, in the midst of this setting, the statistics only serve as a reminder that we are all still stuck in this, unable to go back as life to the way it was in February, which seems like a lifetime ago.
There Were No Silver Linings With 9/11
For me, I have a hard time even looking at the 9/11 memorial. I become extremely emotional. I do not like taking the path train to the World Trade Center. The made it so nice that I just feel vulnerable all over again. Having been through 9/11, it still, even today, feels too raw and I cannot feel any silver linings.
The current Corona virus situation is terrifying in a different way, but for me, the pace is slow. Even though we are surrounded by death and suffering, there have actually been some silver linings. Here is my list, maybe it will help you:
- Since we are all home we got a Labrador Retriever puppy.
- We are all cooking together a lot.
- We are eating healthy, balance meals.
- We are spending time as a family.
- My husband and I are going for walks every day.
- My kids are learning to do chores around the house.
- We are not putting many miles on our cars.
- We are polluting less.
- My kids are happy not to take the train to school.
All of these silver linings are fine and dandy as long as my family gets through this unscathed. I think the hardest part for me is not seeing our extended family: my parents, my in-laws, my sister…. and we don’t know when we will see them. The unknown is scary and in this scenario it could go on and on. Never will we take wellness for granted again.