Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11.

I remember exactly what I was doing when it happened.

Watching "Blue's Clues" with my one-and-only child, my 10 - 1/2-month old son.

I remember exactly what I was wearing when I got the phone call from Bill.

Maternity blue jeans and a gray long-sleeved shirt.

That day is forever cemented in my mind.

I thought what Bill was telling me was ridiculous at first, and I scoffed. Terrorists? It's 2001. Our airports have sophisticated screening equipment these days. It must have been a mistake. Pilot error. Error from the control tower.

Stop being so dramatic, Bill.

It's just not possible.

But within minutes, I learned it was very possible, as I watched a second plane blow right through the side of the behemoth building made of glass and steel.

And in that instant, I knew our country had changed forever.

I remember how my sweet little boy, not yet able to speak, but able to sense emotion, crawled into my pregnant lap, snuggled and offered comfort as I cried while watching the events unfold.

I did not know anyone who died on September 11, 2001, but I still remember many of their stories and carry them with me in my heart.

I remember Lisa Beamer, the young mother of two, pregnant like me, recounting the last conversation she ever had with her husband. She recalled her husband Todd heroically saying, "Let's Roll!" which became the country's personal mantra for months.

What would I say to Bill if I had mere moments to speak to him? How could I possibly fit everything I had to say to him into a minute-long conversation?

There could never be enough words.

I remember the usually stoic Peter Jennings welling up with tears while delivering the news, and me doing the same.

This wasn't just a news story that could be reported and set aside. It was unfolding moment by moment, and reporters are human.

I remember the news shots of people in the streets on September 12, holding up pictures of their loved ones, fervently hoping they were just unidentified at one of the hospitals in New York City, and not lying among the dead in the wreckage.

So many fathers, mothers, daughters, sons. So much possibility. Gone.

As the world watched in horror.

I remember the stories of the fathers and mothers who would never live to see their children grow up. I remember the stories of the fathers that would never get to meet their children because their wives were still pregnant.

Selfishly, I couldn't help but think that I was pregnant too. What if Bill never got to meet this baby? What if our son and this little baby growing inside of me never fully got to know what an amazing man their father is?

It was the sad, tragic reality for far too many.

I remember the flashes of light that came out of the darkness. The patriotism. The American flags flying proudly. The good deeds. The little kindnesses. The feeling that we were all one big family, and if one of us was hurting, we were all hurting.

For our grandparents' generation, it was Pearl Harbor.

For our parents' generation, it was the day that JFK was shot.

For my generation it was September 11, 2001.

My greatest hope for future generations is that there is no tragic defining day for them. I hope that they have their defining days, yes, but I hope that their defining day is something much more mundane and personal. I hope it is the acceptance into a school of their choice, the meeting of their future spouse, the dream job offer, the purchase of a first home, the birth of a first child.

Of course, it's not always rainbows and unicorns. But it doesn't have to be tragedy either.

One can only hope.

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