I have cried the ugly cry, more than once today. I waited to be alone to do it. I want my kids to learn about 9/11 but I don't want to be the one to teach it to them. I can't do it without sobbing. I want them to learn with me the names of the heroes of that day. I want to feel healed and not so raw when I think of it. Mostly though, I want there not to be loved ones of 2,977 people whose hearts are ripped right out of their chests every year on this day and on all the other days too.
At lunch today I let the kids eat dessert first, chocolate covered strawberries. My sweet husband, new I would need some sweets over this weekend and he made them for me, after the kids were in bed, so I wouldn't have to share. I did anyway. I can't eat quite a dozen all by myself! Since it is rare to even have dessert at any meal in this house the little lips were thrilled with the two chocolate covered juicy morsels placed before them, and they didn't even have to eat their broccoli first.
Perhaps comfort food isn't the correct answer for healing, but it is a way to cope. Along with convincing my kids to snuggle me more, which is getting harder in direct proportion with how big they are getting. I'm also coping this year is by writing, it has become my outlet these last few years and yet I haven't yet recorded the events of where I was on
that fateful day ten years ago.
I was driving in our explorer, it was just after 7am PST, I had just dropped Adam off at work in Mission Valley and was off to drop the doggies at day care, it was to be a long day for both of us. Wondering why the radio was off in the first place, I turned up the volume while hitting a few presets because all I heard was chatter and I wanted some music. I heard something about the World Trade Center, I went back, I couldn't get a clear picture from what I was hearing. Something about a bombing at the WTC, hopefully, I thought they were talking about the previous bombing in 1993. I pulled over and called my Dad.
He was nearly speechless on the other end, I felt like I had to make him talk, "they're gone, they're... just gone." Was all he could say, I could picture him there watching the TV in our family room, but I could not yet imagine what he meant. I wanted to jump on a plane and be there with him, but that would have to wait. "All those people" was all I barely had the breath to whisper, "and the buildings" was his distant response.
I turned around and went back to work with the crazy dogs, I let my husband hug the strength back into my legs. I had to see it. The internet was bogged. Adam went to Costco with a friend and brought a TV back to the office.
I saw it. I still couldn't believe it. I saw it and saw it as we all did and I still couldn't fathom it. I knew people who worked in and around there and are still alive! ALIVE. But weeks later one told me she still hadn't smiled. The buildings are symbols of freedom, the media kept telling me, that's why they picked them to attack, to harm our economy. I couldn't understand, none of us can, even still.
I couldn't see them as just buildings. They were living and breathing, because of the lives that they sheltered and protected day after day. I saw them the way I saw all the other buildings that housed my friends, family, coworkers, school mates and strangers, the buildings were symbols of life. They were a product of human invention and housed the frailness of this human condition, that can come to an end so tragically.
Healing, I've now realized, doesn't mean the pain is gone or even that the tears stop falling, it means living and finding a redemptive kind of hope from what I see in others. People sharing the stories of heroes in planes and buildings and families. In how they keep going on despite the loss, devastation and grief.
Ten years, for such a defining moment in a lifetime is but a blink. Years before, I would get angry at San Diego and Boise news media for not showing enough of the 9/11 coverage. I almost wanted to relive it, each year for fear that the pain would fade into memory. It will not. I will always, clearly remember the sleepless nights, the weeks of silence and tears. The signs in grand central station, even two months later. The candles and pictures on the firehouse, the people. They will always be in my heart.
An inspiring family from my home town shares their story. I can't watch all the stories, this year I just watched this one. I will cry with them and live and play with my family. I will remember, while creating new memories. Maybe before dinner, we'll have dessert first too, because we are alive and grateful to be so.