Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

I was at our apt with Az3 in our bedroom with me, getting ready for school/work. Daddy called right as he got to work, telling me to turn on the news - something had happened in New York. He didn't know all the details - something about the World Trade Center. (um, what was that? I sure didn't know at the time.) I turned on NBC to see the 2nd plane hit and hear Katie Couric comment on it. I sat down in shock, as they showed both buildings now, and then gathered my son up in my arms. I couldn't believe it - this was America for the love of pete! You don't do this in the US!! Then their Pentagon correspondent came on, talking about an explosion there. That's when my incredulousness turned to flat-out fear - like I haven't ever felt before or since. That's when the world stopped for me, when I felt totally out of control, when I suddenly realized that my precious little family (hubby and son at that point) was very much in real danger. So I did what any rational, red-blooded American woman/wife/mom would do at that point: I called my MAMA!! She was at work, with no tv, and I started blubbering: Mom, we're under attack! She quickly calmed me down to a coherent point, and then she proceeded to check in with the rest of family.

I sat down to watch more tv to see what else was going to happen that day, and talked with hubby again. Then I realized I was going to be late for class (if we had it that day) and that my 2-weeks-from-2-yrs-old son really needed to stay on his schedule. So I dropped him off at the sitters, marveling all the way at the expressions of people driving on the street. By this time, the nation had realized we were being attacked, and it was everywhere - every tv and radio station. You couldn't possibly have some form of media on and not know what was going on at that point. I stopped at my dad's office (to get some ground of reality) just to see the first tower fall. I continued to campus, where I went straight to the UC (university center, now student union building - center of campus). They were rolling out all the tv's they could find as students crowded around them. I went into the theatre, where they were broadcasting cnn on the big screen, just to see the second tower fall. They also announced that classes were cancelled that day, and the news people started talking about a missing airplane. (It would later be discovered to have heroically crashed in a Pennsylvania field.) I couldn't believe it, couldn't comprehend it. This was my generations' Pearl Harbor, and all I could do was sit in the theatre, trying not to cry, unable to move.

I went to work a few hours later in the University library, where again they had pulled out all the tv's they could find. This was both comforting and maddening at the same time: there was no more "real" news of the day, as it was now devoted to replaying coverage of the day, talking with people covered in ash, and they were just starting the rounds and rounds of the family members holding up pictures of the missing. That was what drove me nuts in the days to come: the media giving hope to the families of those who would never come home again by letting them show their pictures over and over and over and over. I did eventually have a moment of "losing it" on the evening of the 2nd day: I found myself watching the news literally 24/7 in my fear that something else would happen, and couldn't stand it any more that night. I remember a few days later, my fear turning into anger - intense hostility towards those who would dare DARE to attack my beloved nation. And how carefully it seemed to be planned - the date "9-1-1", the targets (economic, political, military), and the flat out audacity and disregard for human life.

Five years later, I sit here in my house, with my 3 kids watching a cartoon. Okay, my oldest is out early from 1st grade - he remembers nothing of that day. We talked about it today - bad evil people crashed planes into buildings, the policemen and firemen went to help, but lots of people died. We're okay though, because the soldiers are fighting the bad people where they live, instead of where we live. He (in a wonderful child's way of getting it) seems to understand, just in the way children understand death and other things we grownups worry about. My middle daughter is more concerned about wearing her jammies today than anything else. The baby is babbling and pulling up, and I sit here and think, what better way to commemorate today? Just to have a normal day - I think it's the best way to thumb my nose at them that wanted to destroy any sense of normalcy for us.

Az3's school had a very nice patriotic assembly this morning, followed by an indoor bike ride - he decorated his very nicely and enjoyed it! Then after picking him up, the kids and I went to the local 9/11 memorial - a field of flags, one for each person that perished that awful day. Pulling up it is an incredible reminder of the human life lost. It was also very peaceful - very quiet, hearing just the flap of the flags blowing in the breeze, reminding me of the Old Testament story where God speaks not out of the thunder or the wind, but of a gentle whisper. I took some pictures of the kids (Az3 spontaneously broke into the pledge of allegiance - drew proud tears to my eyes!) and then they started running. Running and laughing. This way and that, through all the flags. I couldn't see them any more, and at first I was worried it was disrespectful - this was a memorial after all, to our nation's darkest day. But then it hit me, that my kids were showing me hope: hope that while we must remember, we must also look forward. That as long as the Father is in His heaven, I have nothing really to worry about: any goodbye here is simply a "see you later". To watch them run and laugh in utter freedom - free to be kids, free for my daughters to be outside with no government mandated coverings, or restrictions, or anything. It was truly a beautiful moment.

Where were you on this date?

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