Friday, September 11, 2009


Driving to work this morning. Lost in thought. Mulling over this and that.

When I thought I heard news snippets from that other September 11th. 2001. And then, yeah, there it was again. On the radio.

The song "In a New York Minute", the same song that caused me to write this post one year ago today.

That was when I realized it was a repeat of what our local radio station did last year. Between 9:45 and 10:00 AM Atlantic Standard Time (perhaps when the first planes took off?) they played snippets of news tapes from that awful day, "In a New York Minute" and "I Will Remember You" interspersed between various commercials and The Parent Report.

I like that they do that, that they keep doing that. I wonder how many other Canadian radio stations do the same thing?

~ ~ ~ ~

I moseyed over to Homefront Six's blog today.

She wrote about her memory of that day eight years ago.

Her husband (MacGyver she calls him) is in the military and at the time they were stationed in Alaska. But I will let her tell the full story, from an earlier post in 2007.
We were in Alaska. About as far away from New York and the Pentagon as you can get and still be in the United States. MacGyver had come home from PT and was in the shower. I was on 1/2 days leading up to maternity leave and didn't have to be to school until 11am that day. My alarm went off and it was set to the local country station. When it went off, I slapped at the snooze button. About a half second after I hit the snooze button, my brain registered what the DJ had said..."a plane has crashed into the Pentagon. No word on casualties yet. This, in addition to the World Trade Center...".

I remember the words verbatim.

I sat bolt upright in bed and lunged for the radio and turned it back on and sat there for what felt like minutes but was actually more like seconds listening to the DJ go on about the events that had unfolded thousands of miles away while I slept.

MacGyver shut the shower off and I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. I about ran into him as he came out and told him (like millions of other people said that day), "You have to go downstairs and turn on the TV. Planes have hit the Pentagon and the World Trade center." That is all I could get out. I still couldn't wrap my brain around what I had heard and it would be days...weeks, even...before I was able to do so.

We went downstairs - MacGyver still dripping wet in his towel and me, 10 months pregnant - and turned on the television. We just stood there. I can still feel the sensation of my mouth literally hanging open. I kept closing it and it kept falling open. And we just watched.

Finally, MacGyver said something about maybe now not being the best time to bring a child into the world. I said something back to the effect that it was a little too late for that thought. He then started moving very quickly to get dressed and get to work. I remember him grabbing his A and B bags, not knowing if he would be home...
It was that last part is what struck me so vividly when I read it.

Or as she recalled it today:
We went downstairs and stood, gaping, at the television. We couldn't even cry. We were too shocked. I think the first tower fell while we were watching and that must have sparked MacGvyer to move. He bolted upstairs, threw on his BDUs, grabbed his overnight bag and some food, kissed me goodbye, and left. Still, there were no tears. I didn't know if I would see him again. In my mind, he would deploy. I don't know where I thought he was going or what I expected him to be doing but I did not expect him to come home. Mentally I was trying to steel myself to have this baby alone. And I was ok with that. Hell, after thinking about what the people in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania were going through, having a baby on my own was nothing compared to that.

Still, there were no tears.
Yeah. Can you imagine? I can't.

~ ~ ~ ~

So just how long is too long?

I recall some non-Americans questioning quite a few years ago why the US was still "going on and on" about 9/11. That other countries have had similar tragedies. Bigger tragedies, even. Suck it up and get over it, they said. "Why should you remember 9/11 while we are asked to forget ours?"

Imagine. As if anyone should could ask, could even suggest that some other nation should just "get over" their tragedy, whatever it was. The difference being (if there is one), I suppose, that historically we in North America had such a tradition of being *protected* from so much. Sure, read about it in the newspaper. Turn the page. See it on the TV news. Change the channel. Or just wait a minute. Much like the weather, the story will soon change to something more palatable, less horrifying.

After my first year of college, a good friend and I traveled to Europe. It was a wild trip, we went where we wanted when we wanted. And only came home when we finally ran out of money. Did a lot of backpacking and hitchhiking. Stayed in a lot of hostels.

I have a lot of amazing memories from that trip. But two things in particular are burned into my mind until this day.

One was walking through an open air market in Rome. Accidentally bumping into somebody. Looking up to apologize. And finding myself staring into the face of an old man with only one eye. No patch, no bandage to cover the missing organ. Just one eye. And what looked to my horrified eyes as literally a hole in his head where the other belonged.

I could handle the people begging in the street. Even the woman begging as she sat on the sidewalk while she breastfed her infant and three other little ones played nearby. The man with only one eye ... not so much.

The other incident occurred when we staying at a hostel in Greece. We met a young girl, around 14 or 15, from Israel. Very pretty. She was traveling by herself, which both my friend and I agreed was nuts.

Traveling as a duel, we documented at least 30 pairs teams of guys who tried were determined to pick us up, who were hard-pressed to take No for an answer when if we declined. And then there was the one guy in Paris who approached us on the street at night, grabbed my friend and tried to kiss her on the mouth. She pushed him away and we took off at a mad run for the hotel. Fortunately, he only followed for a block or two. So, yeah, we figured the Israeli girl was either very brave or very stupid. Or maybe a little of both.

And then she made the comment that I will never forget. That all she wanted in life was to find a place to live where you could wake up in the morning without wondering if your father or brother was dead. It completely blew me away, I couldn't imagine living that way.

I believe the word is sheltered. Protected. Not so much any more.

Perhaps that trip to Europe was a wake-up call to me. Perhaps 9/11 was another.

Once is once too often. And, for me at least, having it happen to the US was the same as watching some terrible, unthinkable tragedy happening to your next door neighbour's home. So even if your own house remained unscathed, your psyche didn't. It was the next worse thing to it actually happening in your home.

~ ~ ~ ~

This post. Disjointed.

Sort of like my memories of September 11, 2001, are today.

1 comment:

Kris, in New England said...

Sadly there are some in the US who also believe it's a "sackcloth and ashes" display on 9/11.

I am so tired of people thinking there is a timeline on grief, especially this kind.