I watched a documentary on the anniversary of September 11, about those in the towers who survived that horrific day. Ron DiFrancesco, the last man to make it out alive, sat in front of the camera, tears pouring down his face.
‘The physical scars don’t bother me,’ he said. ‘It’s the guilt. Why did I survive when so many others didn’t?’
I have survived an implosion of a much smaller scale, one in which not everyone made it out alive. Four and a half years on, my life is perfectly wonderful. I spend all day doing whatever I want, I’m in love with a wonderful man, I’m healthy and totally sexed up. All my worries are small.
And yet in spite of this, I feel indescribably sad a great deal of the time. I am sad that men shoot their families and then themselves, that babies die in the womb or minutes after birth, that relationships grow silent, and that parents forget who they are and who they love. I am on the verge of tears every single day.
Why have I survived when there are so many others struggling with their pain? Why can’t I help them? Can I give away some of my happiness to someone else?
And then I remember that pain is part of the human condition. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Celebrating being the lucky one when others are ground into the dust feels wrong and inappropriate.
The only thing I have to offer you is hope. My small smudges of clouds today are nothing compared to the raging storms of the past. The weather always changes.
I have an umbrella.
I can lend you my coat.
It is already wet with my tears.