Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
The effects of last week’s attack are still with us. I feel betwixt and between, hearing the names and personal stories of so many victims and their surviving families, while so many dead are still uncounted, let alone unnamed.
This tragedy, for those of us living in DC, is too close to home. DC is such a small enclave, really. People get around, end up knowing people who know people; that's how DC works. While many of us were lucky enough not to personally have relatives on the planes or at the doomed sites, often we know of victims, nearly know them.
I used to work at a law firm; one of the lawyers I knew there, Peter Batacan, lost his wife in the Dulles plane. I met Karen Kincaid only once, at a Christmas party. We chitchatted over a drink at the bar. Still, I feel for Peter’s loss; they were, in the words of the firm’s managing partner, “the kindest couple” he’d ever met.
Their kindness outlasts even this death. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Karen should be sent to the Washington Animal Rescue League, 71 Oglethorpe Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001, Attention: Mr. Rosenfeld. Karen was active in animal rights and care.
Another example is Jon’s neighbors, the Falkenberg family. They live two blocks from Jon, in the town of University Park. Charles S. Falkenberg, Leslie A. Whittington, and their two daughters, Zoe and Dana, were all on the Dulles flight. An entire family decimated by the tragedy, the Falkenberg's also have the distinction of including the tragedy’s youngest victim, 3-year-old Dana.
I drove by their home yesterday. A makeshift memorial, a now-too-familiar sight on television, has sprung up on their front stoop. Flowers, a Mylar balloon “Just Because,” and several teddy bears cover the steps.
These victims to whom we have such a slight connection touch me so, because they are almost too close. Don’t misunderstand: I am grateful not to have had a close friend on the flight, and oddly ashamed to claim kinship with these acquaintances. I suppose what I miss is the chance to have known them better.
Even Back Then
A close friend recently brought to my attention the original script of a radio address by Canadian Gordon Sinclair who, disgusted by the international verbal abuse Americans received in the 1970's, gave the address on his show in 1973. I think that this piece is as relevant now as it was then. Maybe moreso, in light of recent events.
We have, since the 70's, continued to assist in disaster relief described by Sinclair, as well as war-torn regions around the world. Since 1973 we have had many other internal conflicts, problems, numerous earthquakes and hurricanes, Waco... the list
is long, even in my short lifetime. As Sinclair points out, we stand alone during our troubles, and survive.
But read the script. Note that even back then, Sinclair donated all royalties from reuse of his script to the American Red Cross. Call your local Red Cross and give blood, even if you haven't any money to donate.
Living in a Police State of Mind
Two days ago, following the attack of which we are all aware, DC, MD, and VA all declared a state of emergency. Slightly scary. Hummers and armed National Guardsmen are patrolling the Capitol of our great nation, leaving me to wonder, where the hell are we headed?
Not long ago, I drove my honey Jon to the airport, Dulles even, and stood by while he checked in, then rode on one of those weird retro-futuristic transports to the terminal building with him, pressed together like sardines on a subway (sighhhh). We disembarked, grabbed a bite to eat at the local Burger King (at that time, dearies, you could get plastic knives), and meandered over to his gate with him. We chatted and giggled, right up until time for him to leave, when he gave me a wonderfully romantic and genuine full-on kiss. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. The kiss that makes you wobbly.
Gone are the days when I will see my honey off on his flights. Gone, too, the days when we could show up an hour early, having time to eat before boarding. Gone, perhaps forever, the chance to spend every last second with him, knowing in the back of your mind that accidents happen, that your last kiss may take place curbside in the front of a car, rather than among the camaraderie of fellow lovers and spouses bidding farewell.
I’m lucky – Jon will be back soon, and safely. But what we have lost cannot be regained. Our innocence and the unfounded worry is gone.