Monday, December 16, 2013

Scar Tissue

The following was written by Kristin Leclaire, a wonderful Language Arts teacher at my school and a friend. She initially sent this to our principal, who then suggested she share with the entire staff. With permission from Kristin, I share it with you.

Hello, Warrior Family. Below is a letter I sent to Natalie on Saturday. She suggested that I share it with all of you. Please don't feel obligated to read it, but I thought I'd offer it to you just it in case it helps a little.

I love you and am proud to be part of your family. Here it is:

Dear Natalie,

As a survivor of apocalyptic moments, I thought I might share with you my thoughts on Friday’s horrific events.

I was living and teaching in Manhattan, as you know, on September 11, 2001. Watching the world fall apart on the corner of 90th and Amsterdam, I was protected by some kind of surreal aura. Jet bombers ripped open the sky as grown men in business suits cried and waitresses fled their restaurants, locking the doors with plates half full of food left on the tables. Nobody seemed able to find their wives, sons, and friends. Our safe world--our home--had shattered, and whatever familiar pieces of it remained were warped and blackened. I, like many others, watched all of this from inside a muted bubble that wouldn’t burst until I saw the news alone in my apartment later that evening, when I cried so hard that my shirt soaked through to my skin.

The next morning, however, I cried from a different place in my heart. Looking out my window on the 20th floor, I could see a growing line of women and men down on the street stretching for blocks and blocks. They were lining up to give blood to the Red Cross.

Restaurants were still closed, but not out of fear; they posted signs informing the public that all the food for the day was being donated to those in need. In the elevator, strangers asked each other, “Is your family okay? Do you need anything?” A guy sitting next to me on the subway showed me photos of ground zero and told me about his nephew, who had escaped from the first tower.

A woman sang, “O Holy Night” in the middle of the midtown subway platform, and a hundred of us stopped rushing for a moment, put down our bags, and just listened, tears rolling down our faces as her voice reverberated off the tile walls, spreading and soaring and filling up the spaces left by lost sisters and husbands and fathers. I thought maybe she was an angel.

In a city known for its rude inhabitants, where people thought nothing of letting doors slam in my face and cutting in front of me at Zabars, something unexpected was happening: New Yorkers were becoming family.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and you see, the evil that blew up those buildings was being pushed away by the good in the hearts of the survivors. In the same way, I believe the hate and desperation that exploded in our school on Friday will be pushed back by our love and hope. We will heal together, taking care of each other as a family. Like the survivors of 9-11, we are the only ones who really know what it was like at ground zero, and the same force that had us huddled in the dark corners of our classrooms will help us put our arms around each other.

Scar tissue, it turns out, may be uglier than unassaulted skin, but it’s also thicker and tougher, and man, does it run deep.

Much, much love to all Warriors,


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