Eight years ago today the unthinkable happened.
I remember most of that day very clearly – the phone call from the lovely woman who would one day become my wife, standing in front of the television and watching one horror after another, or later trying to interact with guests when I pulled a double behind the bar.
That was a long, long twelve hours, I might add. Right up until I wiped off the last tap and handed in my drawer, each of my guests had sat quietly, watching one of the televisions that hung suspended from the ceiling, nursed their drinks, and spoke almost not at all. And for me, things seemed to stay like that for almost a month and a half.
And then U2 came to town.
The concert was , in a word, awesome. They did their new stuff, which was great, but about an hour in to the show the red Joshua Tree backdrop lit up across the back of the stage and Bono and the rest of the crew started pouring through the music most of us there had fallen in love with in the first place; from albums going all the way back to Boy. We were dancing, singing, laughing, and really letting go.
The weight that had settled onto my chest and into my spirit, the one that I hadn’t even realized was there until the moment it lessened, seemed to slowly shrink and fade, and without warning I found I could suddenly breath again. All of us could.
But they weren’t done.
Near the end of the concert the band went silent and two large screens slowly descended from above. Most of us were still smiling and swaying a bit from the previous tune and we looked at the screens and then at each other? What’s this? No idea, but it’s going to be cool. And to be certain, we were right, but not in any way we imagined.
As we stood, growing more still and silent, names began streaming down each screen, one after another after another, and Bono finally stepped up to the mic, paused a moment, and said, “For all of those lost in September.” And as the first quiet notes from Edge’s guitar reached us we realized that we were seeing a list of everyone who had died on 9/11. And it seemed to go on forever.
But during those moments a wonderful thing happened. We stood there, quietly watching and listening, lighters or cell phones winking in and out, and people began to truly let go. There were sighs and coughs. Then there were sniffles. And finally sobs. People held one another tightly, and all around me there were tears and grief and strangers again connected by what had happened. But when the lists finally came to an end there were actually smiles and hugs, and as the last notes faded away we realized that a first essential and powerful step to healing had just happened, and man, we went absolutely fucking crazy. Cheers, claps, shouts, even roars. Joyous, lovely roars as Larry started pounding away at his drum kit.
Thank you, U2.
Readers – what’s your story?
Image by Sister72