It’s been five years. Five years. How fast time has flown, and yet how full those five years have been.
I’ve never journaled about September 11th, never journaled about it, never set down in words my feelings about that day. At the time, I was a new mom, exhausted, and I just couldn’t do it. Then I was a mom of an extremely active toddler/preschooler, and I just couldn’t do it. Even today I can barely do it. It’s still so raw, so painful.
That morning it was a beautiful September morning in Colorado. I had been up during the night several times with A, who at five months still wasn’t sleeping well. I put him back down around 5:30, crashed back in bed, and was up with him again about 6:30. While I watched the early morning news the first time I was up, when I got up the second time I kept the tv off for some reason, and listened to the birds outside as I rocked with A. The sun was just starting the day’s journey, there was a light breeze through the deck door, and I rocked with my baby as we listened to the birds greet the day. Tom was in his office working. If I had had the tv on, I would have seen the coverage from the start, would have seen the second tower hit live…
About 7 am he came dashing out to the living room, saying something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York. He had been in NYC twice that year; once in February, again three weeks prior to 9/11. In February he went up to the WTC observation floor. He is a man who does not like heights; he went up because “if I don’t, I may never get to again.” That statement has haunted him ever since. So when he came out that morning, my response was “what, a Cessna?” I couldn’t begin to imagine the horror we’d see when the tv went on shortly after the second tower was hit. I leapt out of the rocker and to this day cannot believe I didn’t drop A. The shock…I had that burst of energy when I jumped up, then went limp. I can’t believe I didn’t drop him.
The tv didn’t leave CNN that day, or for many days after. I was home with little to do other than care for an infant; I was glued to that set. Tom came out every little bit to catch up. That day there was little work done. I remember when the Pentagon was hit. The look on the reporter’s face…pure shock. At this point the panic was getting worse. I remember whispering “we’re under attack” in shock and horror and disbelief. I didn’t know anyone living or working in NYC (and still don’t know if anyone I know was killed that day), but my dad travels a lot. At the time, we didn’t know exactly what flights were involved and I didn’t know where he was. I called my mom in a panic. Thankfully, he was home, not on the road. She hadn’t seen any video of the attacks, hadn’t seen the towers burning like two upright cigarettes.
I was changing A when the first tower collapsed. When Tom shouted back to me that it had happened, I was already so numb that my first thought was “well, of course it would collapse.” I saw the second one go down.
When Flight 93 crashed, all I could think was, please, please let this be a regular, run-of-the-mill plane crash. Please, not another plane. But it was.
Flights nationwide were immediately grounded. Later that day we heard two military jets scream overhead and everyone home at the condo complex where we lived at the time dashed outside in a panic, scanning the skies, trying to see the danger.
I remember strange things from that day. I remember that the Food Network and HGTV showed no programming, that there was only a screen displaying something about in memory of those killed, there would be no programming that day. I remember non-stop commercial-free news coverage, an odd thing. I remember going out to get the mail and scanning the skies in fear. I remember thinking “Thank God A is only an infant so I don’t have to explain this to him.” I dread that conversation, I know it is coming, I pray it isn’t tonight. I remember thinking that tens of thousands of people work in those towers, in the Pentagon, wondering how many died. I remember the confusion, the incredible confusion, and fear. I remember seeing members of Congress giving a joint statement, and seeing their faces and how frightened they looked. Not angry yet, but frightened. I remember the flags being hoisted over the Pentagon and over Ground Zero. I remember the outpouring of sympathy and compassion from people around there world. I remember thinking that the story of the day would be the Broncos game from the night before, where Ed McCaffrey snapped his leg and how wrong I was. I remember how surreal everything that day and the days following were.
Time will show us what lessons, if any, we took away that day. I simply sit and remember, hug my sons, and pray that it never happens again. But if, God forbid, something does happen, I just pray that we are strong enough as a nation to again pull together and heal. Go hug your family.