September 11, 2014
Now, my friend, comes the part about you. I know you are shy and would rather I did not mention you, but I simply can not. You are the key, the thing that made it all right.
As I said before, even after my dream of meeting God and realizing both his infinite power and his own self inflicted limit, I was haunted with guilt. When I painted those red letters, when the voice warned me, was I somehow responsible for the deaths that occurred on 9/11? What about the war that followed? Common sense may say all it wants that there was no connection between the events. Common sense would say it was coincidence, but I learned too long ago to look beyond common sense. I do not believe in coincidence. I believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that the only limit on God is the free will we have been given. I painted those red letters of my own free will. The voice warned me that people would die, I did not listen. So I can blame no one else. My only defense was my lack of faith.
The acceptance of faith left me with two seeming contradictory problems. On one hand was God telling me he was disappointed that I did not use the gifts I was given and by the same token I felt paralyzed fearing that my misuse of those gifts had already caused such death and destruction. Even today we are at war still, and for years when I ask is there any good that came out of this war? One one answer, a whisper really gave me any hope of redemption. It was the whisper that “wasn’t there a group of people who were being murdered by Saddam Hussein.” I honestly knew little about it and chided myself that I was looking for excuses. When I dreamed I met God, I told him I can not forgive myself until I get a clearer sign.
Then I met you. I met you at a bus stop. My son introduced you as his friend and I knew when I heard your name that you were special. There was a glow about you and I knew you would teach me something important. When you told me you were from Kurdistan, I had to look it up online. The Kurdish people were the ones Saddam Hussein had been killing.
Still I had to wait for you to say it, I could not bring myself to ask. It took months, but eventually you said it. You said how Bush had helped your people. You said your mother was murdered by Saddam Hussein’s helicopters. I wish that I could tell you, show you how grateful I am for those words. I felt as though you were washing the blood from my soul. Those words, at long last, allowed me to forgive myself. But that was not all.
You met my severely autistic son. You became his friend. You treated him with respect. Though I have difficulty believing it is possible, you said that in your culture when there is someone like him the community works together to take care of him. You said that the members of the community work together to help him until he is better.
I was taken back to the moment before I decided to write those red letters. I remembered lying, crying on the floor, praying to God to know that somewhere on earth there was a place and a people who would accept my son and allow me to work with him. It was just after that that I decided, in despair, to put my son back in school and, in protest, to paint those red letters.
At long last it all was clear. My prayer had been answered. In you, I had found a spokesperson for the people that I had prayed to know existed. A people who at that very moment were fighting for their survival. When I painted those red letters, the voice warned me, but God was there too. I meant what I painted, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
When the school bus took my son, I surrendered my liberty and his. Death had to follow as inevitably as rain must fall. All the souls that gathered to me from the graveyard dream and all the dead that haunted me before and after that dream were released with my surrender. For I can not do both, hold the dead in check and give up my liberty. Unto the darkness they were bound and caused as much destruction as they could. For this is still the desperate need of the dead, to force the living to feel their continued presence. But my lord saw to the path they took, such that I could not mistake the truth and the meaning.
I thank God for bringing you to me. I hope you and your people fare well. I pray for their protection. But I know that free will is still the first law. I dare not tell why you are such a blessing. I dare not explain about the dead and demons nor about angels and God. You are Muslim and though I can see your heart is good, I do not think you are ready to accept such things as I speak of, yet. So I write this letter to a future you. Someday I hope you will understand the miracle it was we met at all.
How I wish I could share with you what I have learned. Little acts of kindness and symbolic acts of defiance can be more powerful than bombs, it depends on you.
(This is the fourth and final part of My 9/11 posted the last four fridays of March 2016)