In the two weeks since the East Coast terrorist tragedy -- can any "title" for those events truly serve? -- the images of that day seem unreal. So do the scenes of rescue and clean-up that have followed.
Now begins the real work of making sense, in our daily lives, of unfathomable horror.
The question turns to "getting back to normal," though one of the first realities we all must accept is that such a standard has been irrevocably changed.
"The trouble with normal is it always gets worse," Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn wrote.
That idea feels truer than ever, but central truth in our national recovery from Sept. 11 is that we must all get centered. To do so denies the terrorist their twisted sense of victory. (But will that date ever be the same again? Will people avoid planning celebrations or other events on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2002? The date seems off-limits now.)
"Normal" is a newly-coined term post-WTC, but it is still up to us to find that definition. It starts, of course, with how we react to the tragedy itself. From healthy initial actions comes a firmer base for continuing.
We have seen just such a thing in Hood River. It is time to recognize some of the ways people have responded in our own community.
Tammy Pauley coined the phrase "one day's pay" for her campaign to get fellow hair stylists and others to donate their Sept. 27 pay to the American Red Cross. Her effort is a great example of a focused form of healing.
"One Day's Pay" is an inspired idea and an example of how one person can truly make a difference. It has led to other fund-raising efforts scheduled Thursday. Anyone can get involved by calling Pauley at 386-6100 or contacting Columbia River Bank, where the "Hood River Together Aids in America's Crisis" fund has been established.
Another community effort is the coin drive for American Red Cross conducted by students throughout Hood River County. The drive ends Friday. Donations can be made at the schools; open houses this week will be an ideal time to deliver coins.
The Gorge Winds Ensemble has scheduled a second benefit concert to aid Red Cross and Northwest Medical Teams. The next show is 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Bowe Theater at Hood River Valley High School.
These are the kinds of things people in Hood River do in times of need. Achieving that sense of "normal" can be defined by concentrating on what was going to happen anyway before Sept. 11. Getting back to normal could entail supporting community efforts that had been in place well before that Tragic Tuesday.
Volunteers are getting together to fix up the home of a needy Hood River woman, and Key Bank has a list of supplies people can pay for to help the project.
There is a "normal" need for volunteers throughout the community. This might be the time to think about how an individual can lend a hand -- starting with the schools, where now more than ever kids can use a little extra adult guidance.
The most prominent example of "normal" activity, since it connects us to the Sept. 11 tragedy, is the upcoming Red Cross blood drive. It happens from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Hood River Armory.
The blood drive had been scheduled weeks ago, but now it holds special significance not only for immediate blood needs but also as a way for the community to focus on renewal.
It is a real "call to arms" and a reminder of the continuing need for blood donations. The American Red Cross will return to Hood River and Klickitat counties for the November drive.