Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday's Tears - 9/11

10th anniversary of 9/11. 

It's hard to believe that 10 years have gone by. 

I didn't participate in any of the "where were you..." conversations on Facebook - I didn't want to reduce the memory to a gimmick or somehow reduce the gravity of the situation that way.  (I'm not saying that was everyone's intention, it just felt that way for me).  I will share with you where I was.

I was in college at the time, in my final year, taking all my classes on Tuesday's & Thursdays so I could work full-time on the other days.  It was a hectic schedule and meant I had to drive to school by 7:30 for my first class and I wouldn't be done until 7ish at night.  That morning, a Tuesday, I was up with the sun to get ready for school and as was the tradition in my parents house I turned on the news as I woke up.  I was in LA, so right around the time I turned on the tv the first plane had just hit and they didn't know much but obviously it was a big deal.  I remember watching the second plane hit the 2nd tower live on the Today show, which is weird because I also don't remember the Today show normally coming on until 7.

I went in to wake up my mom and tell her what was going on.  We watched together for a while and we heard about the Pentagon and watched as both towers fell.  Along with the rest of America, we were in shock and completely saddened.  We calculated that based on the reports of how many people worked in the WTC, a population the size of our moderate-sized hometown could very well have been just wiped out.  A lot of people.

The professor for my first class had a strict 'do not miss class' rule, probably spurred by the fact that it was typically a frosh-soph class and it started at 7:30am. I decided to go ahead and go to class. Some had heard but in that bubble that was a college campus many were not aware of what was going on. I remember after class more people knew about it and everyone was talking, shocked, and grieving. When you saw a plane in the air (traffic was grounded but it took a while for all flights to land) it struck instant fear - is this another location planned? In LA we wondered how many people we lost on the planes because the destination of some of the planes was believed to be LA - maybe some people were returning home.

After that first class I couldn't stay on campus any longer. I wanted to be with my family. So I left school for the day and stopped first at our church where my boyfriend (now husband) worked at the time. He had to finish something up so I hung out with him for a while, watching the news constantly, and then later we went to my house to be with my family.

I don't remember much else of that day, other than going out at least once to either drive my husband home (maybe we decided to take one car?) or visit his family, which I only remember because I remember driving and watching the sky vigilantly.   The memories I have are so interesting.  I remember a special church service that Wednesday.  I remember not wanting to do anything but be with my family.  I remember struggling to find meaning in most of my usual activities and hard to "return-to-normal", and I was pretty darn far from all things ground zero.  I was an American - and this hurt our home.

10 years later - the memories of 9/11 are still so real.  In some ways it feels like yesterday.  As I was talking with my son about the events I cried - that surprised me a bit.  I have worked in two skyscrapers, both near an airport, and I'm reminded frequently as planes fly by fairly low, of the events of 9/11.  But yet in many ways so much has happened in my life in the past 10 years - it feels like ages ago.  I live in a new state, I'm done with that degree and have added another but yet I still find myself in school finishing up the Ph.D.   My then boyfriend proposed 6 months later, we were married by the end of the 2002, and since have moved 4 times and I gave birth to our amazing son.  I've had 10 jobs since then - 9 of which are with the same company. 

Life has moved on for us - which is something I'm so very profoundly grateful for on many fronts.  We have been granted more time - many were not.  We did not lose our lives or immediate family members - many were not as lucky.  We have been able to continue to grow and develop and live in freedom.  Yes, things are different now and a world without 9/11 would have been much better in many, many ways.  I would have preferred an idealistic world where my son didn't have to learn about such an event in history.  But it is our reality and maybe moving forward with life cognizant of mortality can be a blessing because we have the opportunity to savor each day if we choose to.

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