08 September 2011

Caught in between...

That Tuesday.

It was a beautiful day.

Big G had just turned 2 the week before, and it was my dad's (for whom my son is named) birthday. He would have been 60. I felt a fleeting sadness that he wasn't here to see my son... that he had not met my husband... that he never had the chance to see me feeling truly solid about my life. And I wished I could call him and wish him a very happy birthday. I lingered on this for a moment or two and then moved on to matters at hand.

As I readied my 2-year old for his first "full" half-day at preschool, I had a lot on my mind. In addition to the bittersweet feelings of my 'baby' heading off to school ... even if just for 4 hours twice a week... and my dad, I was thinking about a dear friend who was in labor, birthing her first child, and our family trip to Maine.

It appeared as if my friend would be delivering on her due date... my dad's birthday. I had told her for months what a special guy my dad was and how auspicious it was that her son was due on that day. I had told her how I had wished Big G had that same birthday because not only my dad but his twin sister were so cool and nice and awesome that it must have something to do with the day :) It was nice for me to be able to balance out the feelings of loss with the great joy of birth.

The prospect of traveling also brought me great joy. I was growing increasingly excited about our trip to Portland, Maine the following day. As Big G was going to be in school for a few hours on this day, I would have time to quickly pack and make our preparations.

As I was loading my big boy into his car seat, our neighbor came out to the street. Something was wrong, I could tell by the shell-shocked expression on his face.

"Did you hear? Did you see?..." his voice trailed off.

"What's wrong? Is everything okay?" I asked.

"No, no," he said. "The planes just crashed... they just crashed into the World Trade Center... and the Pentagon...it's on t.v.... oh, right... you guys don't have t.v.... you have to come see or you won't believe it... I don't believe it..."

And we followed him into his house and watched. Stunned. It must be fake. How could someone do that? How could that happen? I truly thought it was some weird, twisted stunt. And I had to get my kid to school and check in with my friend and get ready for my trip to Portland, Maine...

Interesting how we often start grasping at minutia when faced with monumental tragedies our brains struggle to comprehend.

I was in total denial.

I took my son to school, and I went that whole day thinking I needed to get ready for our trip to Portland, Maine the following day. If it was real, I said to myself, this would be the safest time to fly because they wouldn't do that two days in a row. Good Lord. Delusion and denial. Brain operations shut down. 

It took about a week before the reality finally hit me. A week. And no trip to Maine.

As the official reports and the footage and the personal stories poured out, I read and watched and listened. My husband drove around for at least a month, gathering every different newspaper to read all the write-ups, hoping to make sense of it. But there was and is no sense to be made.

It was senseless.

Every year since then I work to not dwell on the tragedy. I remember and and honor and reflect upon those who lost their lives or love ones and those whose lives were damaged by the horrific events that took place on September 11, 2001. And I celebrate the birthday of my friend's son and my aunt and revel in the joy that is life.

This year on September 11, I will give thanks that I am here, that I am alive, that I am whole. I will be grateful that my loved ones are close to me, whether physically or spiritually. I will remember and honor and reflect upon what transpired 10 years ago... and I will run. 

I have joined the dailymile.com event... Run 11 miles on 9/11/11

"10 years later, we remember like it was 10 hours ago."

Where were you then? And where will you be now?


linking this post up with MamaKat's Writing Workshop.


  1. Crazy stuff. One of the hardest things would be to try to explain it to your kids, not sure how I would try to do that.

    I think all of us remember where we were on 9/11, I got up and was getting ready for work - when I started watching TV after the 1st plane had already hit the tower. I saw the 2nd plane hit the tower live on TV, the craziest thing I've ever seen. 2 weeks ago I visited the Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania, definitely an intense experience.

    I wish I could run on 9/11, but since I'm injured I can't. I might try to do at least some workout on that day at least to honor those lost that day.

  2. It is amazing how we remember so many odd details of the day.. like they are etched in our memory. I remember vividly how beautiful of a fall day it was and now when we have a day like that here... it just gives me chills. Blue skies...not a cloud in the sky... crisp and clear... yet so full of sadness. Yes.. let's celebrate life and the goodness in people as a result. Best wishes on your run!

  3. I was sitting in the beginning of my poly-sci class back in Wisconsin. We had turned on the TV after hearing that first place hit, and we all saw the second plane hit during class. Total insanity -- so senseless.

    My grandfather was a WWII vet & Sept 11 was the day he passed away, a few years before the Sept 11 as we now know it. In a way it's all sort of fitting, but I can't help but think of my grandfather first and foremost, and then of all those who lost their lives that day.

    Looking forward to seeing you Sunday morning.

  4. Great post. Good luck with the run

  5. ah that day...I still cannot see images or read about it without crying. I was at home and alone. I had not job yet and no kids. Bill called and said to turn on the TV. I did and there was Matt Lauer...and the images of what I thought was SNOW. I said to Bill "oh it is snowing in September!" He said "no...that is not snow, it is ashes..." I did not move until 6pm..I stared at the TV crying.

    Sunday I will run the Tunnel to Towers race. It is a national race to honor the ones who died that day, it is in honor of one brave fireman who turned around and ran towards the towers and sadly never came back.

  6. It's so funny but as I have been working on my own piece about that day I started to feel the same panic and odd feeling of that very horrific day. Even though it has been 10 years and I have a very real reminder in the fact that I was 5 months pregnant with our daughter who I had four months to the date, it can really feel like it just happend. Thank you for your beautiful piece! I hope you have a great run that day!!

  7. I was sitting in my living room with my 13 month old and screaming, colicky, 2 week old. My SIL was helping me and my mom had flown home the day before. All I remember is telling my SIL that it was such a perfect northeast fall day. Then we watched the 2nd plane crash into the WTC. It was so overwhelming and scary. My husband came home from work and we checked on friends. I still get overwhelmed thinking about it.
    I will run on 9/11 and go to my two boys football games and keep everyone close. And say a little prayer that we all stay safe.

  8. I was sitting with Thing 1, then 2 months old, beside me in her bouncy chair. The notion othe world was ending crossed my mind. I wondered what kind of world I'd brought her into.
    I will be running 11.25 miles on 9/11. Reflecting and honoring and still healing.

  9. I will run a tad over 11 (16) with my neighbor and I am certain this day will weight heavily in my heart as I run.

  10. Thanks for replaying the events as they unfolded for you on 9/11.

    I was at work, and a co-worker sitting next to me got the call. I went to a place in the building with a TV and watched in disbelief.

  11. I never understood the people who would say I remember what I was doing when JFK was shot. John Lennon was shot. Elvis died....until that morning when the planes hit the towers, the Pentagon, and the crash of Flight 93 when it slowly became clear that it was some type of attack.

    hi from MK's

  12. Moving post. Too choked up for more right now.

  13. *chills* What a powerful way to honor the day.

  14. Always surprised by what our brains do to help us cope, denial and delusion being one of them. Great post. Look forward to reading more of your work!

  15. This is a great post. You put brilliantly put into words how so many of us felt that day. I was getting ready for my chemistry lab in college and I ALWAYS used to watch TV while I was getting ready, but that day I didn't. I got a call from a friend who heard it on the radio and I turned on the TV. My mind could not wrap around what was happening. I went to lab and our professor came in during it and told us about the second plane. I will never forget everything about that morning.

  16. I just totally teared up thinking back to that morning. I had just woken up and turned on the tv to watch the news and drink my coffee as usual. I was in complete shock. It wasn't registering that it was really happening. I called my dad and asked him to explain to me what was happening and I just remember him saying "I don't know, Julie. I don't know". We were all in such shock. Looking back I find it strange that I called my Daddy before waking up my husband. I think I needed the comfort of a parent that day. The whole thing made me feel like a frightened child.

  17. I was driving to work when the first plane hit, and weirdly (at the time bc everyone thought it was an accident) the first thing I thought of was terrorists...I think because I always listened to NPR and there had been a lot on recently about bin Laden. All I did all morning was sit in front of the television and watch, so we were watching when the second plane hit. The girl I was with said something about the towers collapsing, and I said (nicely on the outside but probably a little scornfully on the inside), "They aren't going to fall, Sharon, it's the WORLD TRADE CENTER."

    We had class that day, and they sent us home, and I spent the next few days (weeks) watching TV obsessively. What a dark, scary time.

  18. My first year of teaching. I was 22 years old. Driving to work and listening to NPR. Then when I got to work the kids were coming in drawing pictures of bombs and planes and buildings on fire. It was awful and painful and powerful.

  19. I was living in Washington, DC at the time. Had just finished working out at the gym, when I saw folks gathered around a TV on my way out. Glanced only quickly to see that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. My first thought was that it was a misguided personal plane. The full magnitude of what was happening started to sink in as I listened to the radio on my short drive into work. When I arrived, everyone was gathered in the cafeteria watching TV. Then someone ran in to say the Pentagon had been hit, as local radio reporting was ahead of national TV. We went up to the roof and could see the smoke rising from across the river. F-18s were flying overhead. We found out later that a close colleague's brother was the partner of one of the pilots of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. When the panic subsided, a few of us decided to go out for a drink. The streets were eerily quiet, but for the sound of CNN coverage, which the bar around the corner from our office was playing on its exterior speakers. The mood in the city that night was jittery, and all I could think of to do was to seek solace in the arms of my ex, even if I had to drive past the smoldering Pentagon to get to his house... The next day, the National Guard was stationed at street corners, with tanks. A dear friend of mine had labored and given birth that day, too, wondering what kind of world she was bringing her son into...


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