She's the last known 9/11 service dog left. In her way, she's had a more intimate experience of the destruction that happened than a lot of people do--but it has literally been a dog's age.
Today a co-worker remarked "Did you know this is the 13th anniversary of 9/11?" and the question just seemed weird. Of course, the date is 9/11--was it that it's been thirteen years that seems odd? I didn't ask. It's just math, or aftermath. Babies born then are in middle school. We're still in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is dead.
For awhile, there were bumper stickers that said "Never forget" (still are on older cars), and I can't and I won't. But time does pass. I heard a speaker on some news show say that it is never over for the families of victims, and while it's undoubtedly true, I wonder if the event recedes--it seems like it should. There should be healing.
Bretagne sniffed out the bodies of the fallen, but became an inadvertent therapy dog as well to humans on-site. I don't know how dogs understand things, or what memories she has. But there's something to be said for understanding that that intimate scent of death is in Bretagne's past. And ours. But the therapy goes on. For all of us.
We are still, in some ways, a nation in recovery from a terrible shock, and the actions that have taken place since are many, and the world is a little different for those of us old enough to comprehend a genuine sense of "before" and "after". We are still at war with terror, even if we don't call it a war on terror. In a way, this war is picking at an old wound.
I don't think our wariness is wrong. It only needs to be informed and right. I don't think the lingering trauma is wrong--everyone heals at their own pace. But I think the day comes that the focus needs to be on healing, service, and fixing the broken parts of our past so suddenly disrupted on that beautiful late-summer morning.
And it may happen even on some late-summer beautiful day that someone remembers--isn't it 9/11? as if they almost forgot. I think that day has to come. It may take more than a dog's age, but it will come. And it will then be normal. And it won't be so bad, even, that it is.