My friend and coworker's father died in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
I watched the events unfold in my living room, as I imagine a lot of us did, while I drank my morning coffee and wiped the sleep from my eyes.
I remember sitting there at work later in the day, eyes glued to the TV instead of the medication cart, holding Linda's hand and saying, "It's gonna be OK," knowing, that awful, deep inside your gut kind of knowing, that it definitely was NOT going to be OK.
And it wasn't.
We had another coworker there that day, sitting on the other side of Linda, holding her hand... She was from Bali. She was a Muslim. I never met anyone from Bali before, and for some reason it surprised me that she was Muslim. I guess I just never thought about those things.
And we weren't thinking about them that day, either. Sakti sat there with Linda, holding her hand, crying, praying...asking Allah to bring Linda's father to her safely. We all watched helplessly while Linda tried and tried again to call her father's cell phone, home phone, office...all to no avail. It was a horrible day for everyone, and I can only imagine what it must have been like for Linda.
I can't possibly imagine what the years since have been like for either Linda or Satki...
Sakti stays in my mind today. Of all my coworkers, she was the one who always reached out to anyone who suffered with the most genuine, sincere, and heartfelt empathy. She was the one who never spoke harsh words about anyone else, or at least if she did, we never heard them. She was the one who never complained about how much work there was to be done. She just did it. And she was the one who never engaged in any of the numerous debates that occurred within those walls, she simply walked into another room and prayed. Sakti left an impression on me. I always respected and admired her for her gentle spirit, her caring nature, and her ability to maintain composure. She asked me once, weeks or months maybe before the 9/11 attacks, if I too prayed to Allah, and I told her I prayed to no god. She smiled and said to me,
"That's OK, Allah knows you have love in your heart."
And for her, that was enough. She accepted me and my lack of religion as is...and we forged a friendship that was based on mutual respect and trust. I know a few "Christians" who could learn a thing or two about the Golden Rule and loving thy neighbor from Sakti.
I don't know what ever happened to my Balinese friend, but wherever she is, I hope that she is happy, healthy, and not suffering the effects of the viscous Islamophobia that has plagued this country in the time between then and now. She never judge me, or anyone else, and I hope she is being returned the same courtesy.