911: The Names

Doni M. Wilson:

For the victims of 911 and Benghazi.

Originally posted on Reflection and Choice:

I wrote this a year ago to honor those who lost their lives in both 911 tragedies.

All night I thought about the families who lost so much on September 11, 2001, the day of the most devastating domestic terrorist attack in American history.  Over 3,000 Americans lost their lives.


All week I have been debating whether or not my son, Christopher, who was born in 2001, should watch the documentaries reliving those tragic events.  We watch, but it is still hard to comprehend.  It is still hard to believe.  Christopher says he does not remember a time when we did not think about terrorists.  It is the new normal.  We know when something feels like terrorism.  We do not believe there is such a thing as “spontaneous attacks” anymore.  Those are just words that are made up.

All morning I thought about how I could come up with the…

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Bright Star

All day I have been thinking about August, with its steamy heat, threatening clouds, violent clashes, super moons, and super stars, some of whom have fallen, and left us forever.

It hasn’t been the easiest month in the world.

When the word hit that Robin Williams–so quick on his feet, so thrilling to watch as his manic humor unfolded–had died, I really could not believe it.  It sounded like a hoax, a terrible mistake, and I was just waiting for someone to post that it was all a big joke, that he was fine, making a movie, performing for the USO, hanging out with his friends.  You know:  being himself, one day after another.

That is how it is sometimes:  something is over, and you would do anything to bring it back.

But you can’t.

Someone leaves, and you would do anything for that person to walk back through that door.

But they won’t.

Lots of words have been written about his death, the ones that keep ringing in our ears: depression, alcoholism, drugs, bi-polar disorder, rehab, treatment, struggling.  I keep thinking about one of his last interviews in which he said he was okay with being unhappy sometimes.  I know we need these words to identify certain problems, but somehow, they still feel hollow as explanations or even contributing factors to a mystery as wide as the sea, the mystery of why one would choose death over life.  We will never really know the answer to the question “why?” and maybe that is part of why it hurts so much–silence is such meager solace when mourning a loss.

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Big Times in Big-D


When you are driving to Dallas in July, the last thing you think will happen is that the temperatures will be below the high nineties. But when I pulled into the DFW Hilton in Grapevine, the Dallas suburb near the airport, it was only 82. In Texas, in July, this constitutes a minor miracle. It was the first of many pleasant surprises, and you might even be a little shocked to hear that I, Miss Lit on Lit-Er-Ah-Ture, was there for a conference to hear all about science writing.

Strange, but true.

I brought my son Christopher with me because he wasn’t named after the Patron Saint of Travel for nothing, and when we drove the long way from Houston, he read to me from a book called Ambush about Bonnie and Clyde. He had visited the Bonnie and Clyde museum in Louisiana, saw where they were shot dead, and wanted to disabuse me of any romantic notions I might have about them. He told me that Bonnie was really a waitress, (although he used the more politically correct “server,”) and that “she was just a tag-along, although they were in love.” When we walked into the hotel, the first thing we saw was the restaurant called “Bonnie and Clyde’s.” We looked at each other and laughed. Well, you can’t reach everyone.
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