Last Friday I had a dentist appointment at 10 a.m. to check on the acute sensitivity of one of my upper molars. I’m a 100% chicken with respects to dentistry work, so I dreaded the visit for a couple weeks. However, the pain started to get worse and the fear of an overnight emergency on the weekend pushed me to go.
The hygienist took some x-rays and said that maybe my sinus or grinding was causing the pain. This gave me hope. Then, the dentist came in, took a look at the x-rays, and applied heat to the troubled tooth, which made me jump like a spring. He sat up straight, took his glasses off and said, “I’m sorry, you need a root canal.“
Immediately, the painful memory of my first root canal came to mind. Fifteen years ago I was tortured by a dentist who was in very short supply of knowledge and equipment. Terrified, I asked him if I could wait until the following week, but the look on his face let me know that I was walking on thin ice. I got in my car and drove to the endodontist’s office feeling like a calf going to the slaughter house.
A couple of hours later I walked through the doors of a beautiful facility, which gave me a hint of how much money was this going to cost me. The dentist used state of the art equipment, including an advanced microscope that I think he could see my thoughts!
Before he started, I requested the laughing gas–for an extra $85 which was worth every penny–knowing my low tolerance to the drilling sound. I am sure the dentist would have knocked me out with a hammer either way. The dental services were performed with surgical precision and after 45 minutes and $1,500, I walked out of the office with a numb lip and a numb wallet.
As the anesthesia wore off, I started feeling some discomfort later that evening and over the weekend reminding me of the past. On Sunday evening, after trying hard not to watch any of the numerous 9/11 specials on TV, I tuned one of them on cable news, and just like the memory of my root canal, the images and testimonies of survivors of that tragic day overwhelmed me.
Fifteen years ago I wasn’t even living in the US. I was an intern at one of my country’s leading newspapers and just like every morning, I was getting ready to go to work. My Mother was watching the news in her room and she called me with a grim voice.
We both watched in silence the images of what seemed to be a Hollywood blockbuster. I grabbed my things and ran to catch the bus to the news room. Little did I know, that even so far away, my life was going to be affected by this atrocious event.
My father had requested my resident visa–commonly known as a Green Card–in 2000. According to immigration authorities, the process was going to last less than ten months. Nevertheless, 9/11 froze every visa application from coast to coast, and my plans to move to the US and finish college got stopped in its tracks and delayed four years.
Days of extreme suffering like 9/11 remain vivid, mostly in the memories of those who lost the most: a child, a parent, a significant other, a sibling, or a friend. For the rest of us, sadly, those dates have become historic events that only make the news on their anniversary or as a political prop.
I think about our troubled times, and even though we so eagerly desire peace in so many countries around the globe, there is pain that can’t simply be forgotten. I believe forgiveness is the power that nurtures and strengthens peace, but it can only be truly achieved if the parts in conflict acknowledge their faults in the past.
I hope my husband and I will have the chance to have a conversation with our son in the future about 9/11. Hopefully school text books will keep this sad day in their pages. It is not about living in the past. It is about remembering it, so we don’t let it happen again.
For the sake of peace, let’s never forget what happened on September 11, 2001
Thanks for reading and sharing.