2001 was the worst year of my life. For a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the events of September 11th. I don’t know if it was a gigantic cosmic “kick me” sign or Hell I just got lucky, but my family simply sums up the year with “death, lightening, and taxes”.
But none of those stories relate to today’s post.
September 11, 2001, I woke up to the phone ringing. I had been out of the hospital for about 6 weeks and was still recovering in a lot of ways. My kids were at school 6 blocks away and my husband was out of the country. So having gotten the kids up and off to school, I laid back down to rest.
The phone was ringing and ringing as it woke me up. I reached over and answered it. An old friend was calling me. “Is your TV on? Have you seen the news?”
“What? No. Why?”
I get up and go turn on the television, bringing the phone with me into the next room. The picture flickers on just as the first tower falls.
WHAT the hell???!
After the first plane hit, in the confusion, we all thought it was a terrible accident. Then the second plane hit. And the world as we knew it, the world as I knew it, stopped.
The first thought through my head was: Oh my GOD P’s in Europe. He’s okay.
Immediately followed by: Okay, we live 20 miles from the base, out in the middle of nowhere, the kids’s school is in the subdivision and I have a grocery store a mile away. We are going to be okay.
My husband was Active Duty Navy Aircrew at the time. And the reason the first thing I thought of his location was because of the type of duty he had at the time meant that he typically spent more time in Washington DC than where we were stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. He was in Europe and had no idea what was happening.
I spent the rest of the day juggling phone calls and watching the next six hours unfold on the television. My family was over 5000 miles away in Hawaii. His family was in Washington state. His crew was met by somebody’s somebody that handed them a SatPhone and informed the crew they were being fueled up and sent directly back to the States as soon as their wheels actually touched ground in Europe.
He called. “I’m okay. We’re okay. I’ll see you soon.”
I have spent the last 15 years being so angry that we were lied to. I wasn’t in New York, or Washington, or Pennsylvania. I didn’t bury a loved one because of those events, but I have cried. And I have been angry.
So angry that I didn’t realize that I never really mourned the lost souls. I never grieved. Grief has 5 stages. I stayed pretty much at angry.
Until I read this: Ground Zero
Go read it. Take the 20 minutes or 45 or however long it takes you to get through it.
And then ask yourself the same questions I found myself pondering: Why in God’s name do we build a museum? Could you go through that museum? Would you? Are you still angry? Have you grieved? Can you close your eyes and see it all happen? Has it really been 15 years??