Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Story

I will take on the challenge and tell my story of 9/11, but only because of this:
I got home and just now uploaded my pictures from a weekend trip.  I found some of these that I had taken to be disturbing, when in fact they're nothing.  But not now.  Not this day.  And not this time.

We visited my mom's new farm this weekend, and had a great time.  Played in the yard, fed the horse and rode around in a 4-wheeler, typical "farm" stuff.  We watched a few minutes of the memorial today and I cried.  It scared my son to see me cry, in fact, so I walked away from the TV.  We had all discussed where we were, repeated the stories we've told before but did so today with special significance.

Chasing the flying pieces of boxes from the fire.
When I took these, we were burning boxes and the dead grass from the edge of the small creek right next to the house.  No big deal, but important enough to James for me to take some shots, and I'm glad I did.  But oh, just now...memories overwhelmed me.

Remember what a beautiful blue the sky was that day?  At the time I remember that the horror was made worse by the innocence of the crisp Fall weather.  Remember the paper in the air?  As the towers fell, I remember all the paper in the air....  And the burning field in Pennsylvania, echoing the burning wing of the Pentagon.  These were in my camera from our trip as well:

 It amazes me how the context is so important when looking at pictures and even videos.  It is impossible for anyone to fully express our "before" and "after."  By that I mean that a picture of burning debris will never take my son's breath away like this photo did to me.  He will not look at the smoke and remember the true fear of feeling "un"-safe for the first time, never knowing that we did feel safe in the first place.  The attack was beyond my imagination--I knew there were people in the world who hated Americans, but everyone hates someone, right?  It sounds arrogant now, but we weren't arrogant.  It sounds naive, but we weren't that either.  "Blissfully unaware" is how I would describe my son chasing burning debris, not us as a country back then.

So with that, here's my story, not as bad as others because it ends happily:

I used to travel for a living, and by that I mean I was away from home for at least 85% of the year--we traveled.  That's where I met my husband, in fact, we worked together.  I remember the day we met, what we said to each other, and how I commented that Jason was someone I could see being married to for forever.  I left the company in January of 2001 in fact, exhausted of living the life of a constant traveler.  I am so, so thankful I did.

My honest first thought when I saw the smoke and the building fall was for my now-husband and the others I used to work with--thankfully, none were anywhere near danger and were being called home--by car, the airspace was closed, remember?  I was not dating Jason then, but that being my first thought told me something and I reached out to him, found that his heart was as much with me as mine was with him.  Ten years later, we're married and my son is joyfully chasing paper in the air, and now I have a good memory to replace the scared bad ones.

My heart tonight is with those whose stories are the opposite of mine--the ending of a marriage, not a beginning, and with all those of my fellow Americans.  We will not forget.  We will survive.  We're different, but still the home of the free and the brave.
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