I’d also like to see more about the transition from victim to survivor. Along those lines, this interview from NPR has always stuck with me:
NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I’m Neal Conan in Washington.
On the 11th of September, Cheryle Sincock was among those killed when a hijacker crashed an airliner into the Pentagon. Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Craig Sincock, joins us now on the line from his home in Virginia.
And thanks very much for speaking with us.
Chief Warrant Officer CRAIG SINCOCK: Thank you for having me this afternoon, Neal.
CONAN: This must be very difficult for you, especially over the holidays.
CWO SINCOCK: It has been difficult, and yet we really are filled with blessings, too.
CONAN: Filled with blessings. But I wonder, if you go back to September, were you angry after you learned of your wife’s death?
CWO SINCOCK: Neal, I was angry towards the end of that first day, about 11:00 that night, 11:30 when I got home. And I drove in my driveway and I was crying and I was angry at God for about 10 minutes. And then he and I did not have a very good relationship for about those 10 minutes, till I realized that it was not his fault. It was not him that had driven that plane in there. And a calm came over me that night, and I realized that it wasn’t God’s fault; it was something else. And not that I could understand it, but that I, you know, had to just continue on with my life and do the things I needed to do for somebody else at the time.
CONAN: When did you start thinking about forgiveness?
CWO SINCOCK: Actually, that was about the time I started the forgiveness. Actually about four hours after the attack the opportunity came to help somebody else who was in real trouble that day.
CWO SINCOCK: And as I was helping that other individual, I realized that when I got out of myself and I really thought about how to help somebody else—How could I say the right words? How could I just be there for somebody else?–the little problems that I had at the time, not knowing my wife—where she was, if she was alive or dead, if she was hurt, injured or whatever, you know. But getting outside of myself, that was a release to me. And then God gave me that same opportunity every single day from that point on and continues to every day, even today, to help somebody else. And getting outside of myself and helping somebody else has now lifted that burden of the fears and the frustration and the anger that I had originally.
CONAN: Does forgiving mean forgetting?
CWO SINCOCK: No, it does not. It’s kind of like you see a dog coming at you on the street, a mad dog, you know, you do something to protect yourself. I can’t forgive the dog. There’s nothing there to forgive, you know? But I have to, you know—I remember that and maybe I walk a different path the next time.
CONAN: You talked about this 10-minute period. How did you work through that anger? It must have been very difficult.
CWO SINCOCK: I kind of worked through it—and I hate to say logic because it really wasn’t logic. A calm came over me all of the sudden when I realized that what I was doing was wrong. I did not feel right. And when I don’t feel right, there’s something wrong with me. It’s not wrong with somebody else or something else or someplace else; it’s something wrong with me. I’ve learned that over the years about myself. And I just realized if I’m feeling this way and I’m angry and I’m frustrated and especially when I’m sitting there and I’m angry with God, there is something really wrong with myself. So I had to take a good, hard look that night and realize it was my fears, that fear of the unknown, that terrible fear of the unknown, of the impending doom of something I can’t control. And when I realized that, then I could say, ‘OK, God, you know, what do we do from this point on?’
CONAN: So you took responsibility.
CWO SINCOCK: That’s right. And in all things I have to end up taking—you know, I have to take the responsibility. It’s not the somebody else, it’s not the other people, places and things that get me. It’s usually me, just myself.
CONAN: Well, Craig Sincock, thank you so much for joining us. And again, on behalf of all of us, how sorry we all are for your loss.
CWO SINCOCK: Well, you know, there’s a lot of other people, a lot of other families out there that are still in that. You talked about earlier—you were talking about anger and hate and forgiveness. And what a terrible thing that is when we have to try to search for that and we don’t know how to grab ahold of that. We don’t understand what all those feelings are and those emotions. There’s a way of getting through that process. At least I’ve found a way, you know. And it’s more than just getting down on my knees and praying because I have to do some action, too.
I had one of the ministers or chaplains that was up at the Family Support Center early on after the incident ask me one day how I got through all my angers that he thought I should have. And I told him at that time that I thought anger led into the resentment. And resentment was the fact that when I get angry, that’s my anger.
CWO SINCOCK: You know, how dare you interrupt me in my anger? ‘Cause I feel so good feeling so angry.
CONAN: Yeah. You almost nurture it.
CWO SINCOCK: Yes. And the resentment, if I put an action to resentment, I have a revenge. And then if I go from that revenge state and I justify what I’m doing in revenge, I have vengeance. And what’s the only difference between me and my enemy, that person that flew that plane into the Pentagon? They had vengeance, but they had vengeance without a cause. I don’t dare go that far. I have to stop mine at the anger stage. I can’t afford to have that. Perhaps others can, but I cannot. So as I look down at my life and I say, ‘I really can’t afford to get the anger. If I can’t afford to get the anger—what causes my anger is fear. The thing that causes my fear is because I don’t want to forgive somebody for what I think they’ve done to me.’ And then I can say, you know, ‘It’s all right. I don’t understand what you did to me, but it’s OK. I’m going to protect myself a little different next time…’
CWO SINCOCK: ‘…but it’s OK.’
CONAN: Well, Craig Sincock, thanks very much.
CWO SINCOCK: I thank you for having me this afternoon.
Farm staff – this would make a great didactic.