Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 9/11 post I wasn't going to write

I said I was not writing a post today. 

The weight of this day leaves me speechless sometimes.  I have written about September 11th at times in the past.  I thought I had done so here on this blog but it appears not.  The last few days I have felt myself glued to the TV.  I turn it off, only to find myself coming back shortly after to turn it on again.

10 years ago we all got up like it was any other day.  I think I was still trying to pass Anatomy in night classes at RIC after work.  Al had graduated the year before and he was already working at Inquest - only the office was in Waltham, MA at the time.  I was working at an insurance company as a customer service rep. 

The first word we had of anything came from the radios on our desks.  A plane hit the World Trade Center?  Sounded like some horrible accident.  By the time the second one hit we started to panic.  There was no TV on our floor but there was one in the building next door.  We would take turns going over to catch some of the Today show but for the most part we listened to it all step by step on the radio. 

The Pentagon.  I remember calling Al on his cell phone in tears, begging him not to go to work because I felt like it was too close to Boston and who knew what would happen next.  That whole entire day at work, not one single phone call came into the agency that was work related.  We couldn't go home.  The office stayed open.  The phones usually rang off the hook but the world had suddenly stopped.

What sticks in my mind the most about that day, was the drive home.  A ride filled with slow moving traffic, fighting for the lane you needed and noise ... was utterly quiet.  The same amount of cars on the highway, but everyone had the same look on their face.  Drained.  People were polite, letting each other pass.  I could not help but look into the sky and feel shocked that there were no airplanes.  Living near an airport your whole life one thing you almost stop noticing is planes in the sky.  When all air traffic suddenly ceases?  You notice.  And it's eerie.

At home that night my mom and I sat in front of the TV.  We were joined by Al when he got home from work.  I just remember fighting back the tears as he sat there with his arm around me on the couch.  This could not have happened.

Now it's 10 years later.  Al and I have been married for 7 years and we have three boys under 5 who will never have any memories of that day.  It will be something they read about in history books.  A friend mentioned today that she never understood the magnitude of people talking about where they were when Kennedy was shot...but now we all do. 

Two weeks ago the Big Guy started asking me what September 11th was (which happened to be before I had been gluing myself to the news).  I did not know what to say.  Over the last two weeks the best I could come up with for my five and a half year old is this.  Some very bad people flew some planes into buildings in another state.  Lots of people got hurt, some died.  It was a very sad day. 

He wanted to know if they captured the bad guys.  I hated lying.  I told him some died but some were caught.  He got very excited and said Ha ha, now they are in jail with nothing but bread and water.  I hope they didn't even take their handcuffs off.  I bet they will be in jail for 50 and a half years!  It tore at my heart a bit.  I felt like I had lied to him in a way.  But what do you tell a 5 year old.  Some day when he gets older he will find out what really happened - and we can talk about it then.  But for now, letting him think this is the best I can do.

This morning the boys had been playing in another room and Al and I were watching part of the tribute to the victims on the news when the Big Guy walked in - just as they were showing the towers on fire.  His mouth opened and I shut off the TV.  We explained that was an old news clip from September 11th.  He asked what was there now, had the buildings been torn down.  We told him there is a park now and someday we would take him there.

We put the boys in red, white and blue shirts today.  Al fixed the flag and put it back outside on the house.  I got out the Wee Sing America CD I bought a few weeks ago at Borders and we played it for the boys in the car.  Lunch at Al's parents and a drive down past the farms on Scituate Ave to the reservoir.  A nice family day, even if the thoughts of 10 years ago never really left our minds.

While I did not know anyone who was lost in the attacks that day, I have friends who lost friends.  I know someone who was supposed to be on one of the flights that hit the World Trade center that day, but had ended up changing the flight.  I can't help but feel like no matter how you look at it we all lost something.  Loved ones.  Innocence.  Sense of security. 

I remember the first year or so after the attacks.  People marked the anniversary with flags galore.  This year?  We were one of 3 houses on our street that put out the flag.  I worry people are slowly choosing not to remember.  I don't think this is the sort of thing any one of us should ever forget.

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