Will I ever feel any different on this somber and devastating anniversary?
20 Years ago we lived in Maryland. September 11 started off, as any other day did, with us waking up around 6 AM and getting the day going with our regular routines. Andrew was 5 and Alec 3. At this age running around, laughing and playing outside were their favorite “routines”. Andrew was in PM Kindergarten so that meant we had all morning to play around then get some lunch before heading up to school. Everything was normal. At around 8 AM we took our dog, Cooper, for a walk around the neighborhood and the only thing I actually remember from that walk is that the sky was the most perfect blue and there was not a single cloud to be seen as far as the eye could see. It truly was a stunning September morning.
Back inside, I had the today show on. Matt and Katie were on and I don’t even remember what they were talking about until I heard them say that one of the twin towers had some type of explosion and possibly an airplane accidentally flew into it. I came over to watch and I remember thinking “is this really happening or is this a clip from an upcoming movie?” It was not making any sense that a plane would accidentally fly into a gigantic building when suddenly the second plane hit. I immediately called my dad and told him to bring my grandmother over and that they should plan to stay here for a while if not overnight. I immediately felt that if this was possibly the beginning of a war in the US and I was not going to be separated from the people I love most. I started calling my friends to check in on everyone and our phone was ringing off the hook as well. I instantly decided that Andrew was not going to school today. Luckily, they called and school had been cancelled and kids were going home early. The world changed forever that day.
Here is the beauty of having young kids around during a tragedy: They don’t give you much time to wallow in fear, sadness, uncertainty etc… Kids need to keep going. Their innocence protects them and the need for the basics doesn’t stop because there is an emergency. Don’t get me wrong, they knew something was wrong. Andrew asked a lot of questions and the answers were not easy to find. What do you say? What don’t you say? The meandering is tricky. You know they need some level of understanding because they sense that things are off and lying doesn’t do anyone any good.
We spent that day huddled up at home playing with Cooper out on the deck, playing indoors, making meals and talking. We were together.
We were together.
(Update. As I wrote this yesterday I had to stop. My grief was overwhelming and I couldn’t write or do much of anything else.) I took my paddleboard and paddled out to Sarasota Bay and watched. I watched birds eating, fish eating, people going out on their boats, some were fishing other people paddleboarding or kayaking. There weren’t a lot of people out and about. There were no “party” boats. It was overcast and quiet. I came home and don’t remember much of the rest of the day. I didn’t watch the news or look on social media. Everything is different now. People I used to be close with I no longer speak to and some I didn’t feel close to for a long time I’m close with again. Tragedies change people. After 9/11 the world changed. I still believe that the tragedy of 9/11 has been used to change the hearts of many Americans. The angry and fearful people, the insecure people, the ignorant people and others have been used by those who stand to make a lot of money by creating conflict. Too many people have been misinformed and manipulated to “choose one side” and not to deviate from that side no matter what. Twenty years later we seem to be more divided than ever and all I can do is pay attention to my community and try to do a little bit of good every day and help where I can because I believe that it’s a lot of the little things we do that add up to gigantic things that make real and lasting impacts but that’s a story for another day.
9/11 is a National Day of Reflection (IMO). It is a somber day and I spend it quietly now. Remembering when “we were together”. I miss my innocence. On 9/11 it’s compounded. Grief never goes away. Whenever anyone says to you to “get over it” with regards to grieving just ask them if they will ever forget 9/11. Who has “gotten over” that day?
I miss you, Andrew. We were together. not just on 9/11. Always. I thought of what you and Alec would have done if the three of us were together and I din’t have to think long to know. So I went out and did what we would have done if we were all together: I picked up a bunch of trash from the Bay and Rick tried to help a bird out of a jam. He almost got close enough to grab him. He had a fishing hook stuck on the back of his head but it wasn’t in deep and didn’t impede his ability to fly or eat so when he flew away we didn’t worry too much. We just know that it should be removed but trying to catch a wild bird is not easy. When they fly off you just have to let them go and accept that you can’t fix everything. Try anyway.
I remember you and how you cared so much about people, animals and our earth and you felt bad about mistreating things so even though you weren’t perfect you tried to make things better and you weren’t always succesful but you wouldn’t give up. Ever. You were EXTRA and knowing you could fail, you tried anyway. We all should.