Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another Pretty Tuesday

It's interesting, all these years later, that when people reflect on Sept 11, 2001, they usually remark on how beautiful the weather was.  And it was a particularly clear, pretty day.  I remember on my way to work thinking it was the perfect temperature, and the sky was spectacularly blue.

I was pregnant with my first child, who would be born almost exactly three months later into a world that operated differently from the one in which she was conceived.

I had listened to the news on my short drive to work, and even though a plane crashing into the World Trade Center sounded terrible I couldn't imagine that it was more than an accident or that the building would fall.  On my walk from the parking lot I remember looking at the tallest building in Wisconsin just blocks from the violin store where I was employed and couldn't help but picture what it might look like being struck by a plane.  I kept thinking that had to be a frightening way to die.

I was planing the fingerboard on a 3/4 size cello that morning.  Demanding work on an ordinary day.  Impossible work while very pregnant and in shock as we continued to listen to the radio in horror as the reports got more and more terrible.  I was making no progress and eventually my boss sent me home.

I don't have the right words to explain how it felt to return to my home and find out that my husband, whose work in the Army Reserve had always seemed like a side activity and an occasional inconvenience, was being ordered to put on his uniform and report for duty.  That was the main thing that changed for me that day.  My husband's identity as a soldier transformed in my eyes from something he did on weekends into something deadly serious.  I hadn't believed before then that the man I loved would ever be deployed and sent into a war.

I sat alone in the house the rest of that day.  My husband off with other soldiers at a Reserve Center, and my unborn daughter squirming uncomfortably in my belly as I sat glued to the television, not wanting to watch and not being able to stop.  It took a long time to get through to my brother in New York.  I would check in with my mom in Detroit to see if she had managed to get him on the phone, and we would take turns worrying and reassuring each other and crying.  My orchestra rehearsal was cancelled, so I went to bed early and cried some more and waited for my husband to come home.

Eleven years later it is another pretty Tuesday.  There are many memorials today, and discussions about how everything has changed.  I will try to avoid seeing replayed footage of the planes striking the twin towers because I don't want to witness those people dying again and again.  It's too much.  It's too awful.

But here's what I know: I biked to school this morning with my kids.  My sweet eight-year-old with a sack full of duct tape lit up as she spotted a blue heron in the park as we biked by.  My son in the trailer behind my bike was giggling as he reassured the dog in there with him that it wasn't much farther.  The tall, confident ten-year-old trailing at the rear of our little convoy, her eyes bluer than any sky, was smiling as she pedaled.  None of these wonderful people know anything of a world before September 11, 2001.  It is a different world than it was then.  But it's also a world made better by their presence in it.

I will mourn today for the tragic losses of eleven years ago, because we should never forget.  But I will not see this world as a tragic place.  It is the world my children live in, and it is full of hope, and beauty, and love.  And that I will also never forget.


  1. Oh, this was great! My husband was mobilized from his spot in the Reserves, also; but we had been active duty before, so it wasn't as much of a shock.

  2. It's true. Today was just as beautiful as that other day. I remember I thought it was a hoax, watching it on the news that morning live, until sometime after the first tower went down. I honestly thought it had to be something like Orson Welles and War of the Worlds. We went to work at the university, and of course it closed. So we went to the beach - school was closed and it was 80+ degrees in mid-September.

    I'll never forget the silence outdoors in the days and weeks following. Airplanes and traffic copters are noisier than I'd realized. Every walk outside felt like my urban environment was suddenly remote, with all the silence.

    How awful and scary for your husband to be called up suddenly when you are pregnant with your first child. And following a tragedy. How that changed the course of your lives together, two deployments! I'm so glad he's home safely from them. And that you two together made it through.

  3. This is beautiful and awful...I was going to say I can't imagine what it was like for you, but you write so well that I can. So glad Ian made it home and so glad you are all together.

    My dad was in the Pentagon when the plane hit. He's fine, but it was a dreadful day.

  4. Beautiful post. Yes, yesterday's weather was hauntingly reminiscent of the weather on 9/11. In fact, every time there's a clear, blue, slightly-cool-in-the-morning late summer day, I am reminded of that awful day, and how it irrevocably changed something in our national consciousness.

  5. Very beautiful and poignant.

    I too was pregnant that day--39 weeks. I was so terrified for the world my baby would be born into.

    I too had a husband in the military (USAF) whose job once seemed innocuous and was now quite critical. He was working 12 hour shifts, three on two off.

    Our beautiful baby was born 10 days later in a hospital woefully understaffed since all available help had been sent to NYC. After three days of labor (it was arduous), my husband was called back into work.

    9/11 and Hannah's birth are irrevocably entwined, the second event coming so quickly on the heels of the first, both of them extraordinarily life-changing events.

    I won't say I know how you felt, but I can say I commiserate. It was tough enough dealing with the terror of what had happened, being 39 weeks pregnant, but then, for my major source of support to be taken from me...I understand.

    1. It helps when people understand. The only person in my family who could relate to my situation after Ian was deployed was my grandma. She had also been in Milwaukee, pregnant while her husband was at war, caring for a daughter.... Sometimes when I would call her in dispair it meant the world just to have her on the other end of the line saying, "I know."