Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget - 9/11

This morning Isabel said "You know what today is, Mom?"

I expected her to say "It's math quiz day." or  "It's Sloane's Birthday."  That's the sort of stuff that seems worthy of pre-cereal note.  But when I said "What day is today?"

She said "9/11."

I don't know why it surprised me.  Maybe because she didn't say it with with the enthusiasm attached to a holiday that gives her a break from school, but with the solemnity of a day that's important and should be noted.

I'm glad she thought it was worthy of mentioning.  But what pleased me most was the fact that she seemed to understand that it was a day that meant something - that it was a day to be remembered.

As my kids (achem...and I ) get older it's so weird to see how my past becomes her "history."   That 9/11 to her is kind of how I feel about Kennedy's assassination - touched but removed.

I had already moved from NYC to LA when the towers went down.   I remember waking up that morning and getting in the shower for work.  My husband at the time knocked on the shower door.  "A plane just flew into the World Trade Center!!  Get out here!!!!"


Soaking wet and still covered in soap and shampoo I jumped out of the shower, grabbing a towel to run into the living room.

I stood in a wet soapy puddle watching the news roll the same footage over and over.  I imagine this was a necessary evil for all the people who, like me, just couldn't believe what they were seeing.  A hole in the seemingly impenetrable monolith - surreal, frightening and smoking.  Then a sudden explosion in the second tower after a passenger plane barely noticeable at first glance is seen flying at an oddly low and seamlessly straight line toward the site - slicing through the side of the tower like a knife through butter.  The horror was palpable.  You could feel the snuffing of life. There was a moment of realization - "this was intentional."

We just watched with our mouths gaping at the TV.  Watching the carnage.  The burning.  The desperation as people - people just like you and me - chose jumping over burning.

We watched waiting for something to make it better.  To see how they/SOMEBODY would make it OK.  But they didn't.  Nobody did.  All you could see were flames and ashes and terror. 

I was just sobbing.  I had never in my life witnessed actual death.  This was what real horror looked like. 

I looked at Steven who looked like somebody was pointing a loaded gun at him.  "Doug Gardner is in there!  HALF my lawyers league are in there!"


I tried to call our friends and family in NY to see what was happening.  We got through on my mom's cell phone and she was fine.  My cousin was in Tribeca though and couldn't get out.  But at least she was safe.

Our friend, Doug Gardner, was not.  He was in the towers that morning and I still can't bring myself to think what that morning was like for him...or his family.  His wife, Jennifer Gardner (now Jennifer Gardner Trulson), wrote a book titled Where You Left Me last year about her experience losing the love of her life, and father of her two children, in this tragic disaster.  I don't know if I'd have been so brave. 

9/11 was a tragic, horrific day that redefined our nation's sense of security.  It not only made us realize our vulnerabilities, but it lifted a veil for many head-in-the-sand-Americans - myself included - who had gone their whole lives feeling like the world's problems were somewhere else.  Somewhere far away.  The reality is, the world's problems are right here.  And we need to be the change we want to see.

So hearing my daughter take note of the importance of the day and even asking me to sit and watch YouTube videos of the disaster with her is comforting in the strangest and most unexpected of ways.  People say we need to "Remember 9/11"  And I can honestly say that from what I see, history is being passed on effectively, and that our children will, indeed, remember.

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