September 11

Posted By on September 11, 2016

Like everyone else alive on that day in our country–and all over the world–I remember exactly how I saw it. My office was in the front of our house. I’d dropped my daughter off at school, come home, made coffee, and I was carrying that first cup toward my office.

I’d just started a book, Maggie’s Guardian, and it was writing itself. I loved every minute of that work until that morning. I spent three days and nights, glued to the TV, fearing something else, even more horrible would happen. And then I spent months fighting my sense that writing no longer mattered, to write that book.

I always left the TV on with the news playing because I like the background noise of voices, but I kept the volume low so that I wouldn’t listen to actual conversation. As I walked through the living room, I passed the huge TV my husband had bought that spring so he and his brother could watch college basketball. I glanced at the screen as the second plane flew into the second tower. I didn’t believe it was happening then, and I still feel the same sense of shock every time I remember.

So many memories are like “live photo” on my phone, movement that comes to an abrupt halt. I can feel myself holding my coffee cup as I saw that plane with all those people on it hit that building. I can remember calling my husband, who didn’t answer his phone, leaving messages that I thought two planes had hit the World Trade Center towers, and then that another had hit the Pentagon. But that I didn’t feel sure it had happened.

That afternoon, I tried to think how I would tell my daughter what had happened, but when I picked her up at school and tried to tell her, she already knew because they’d had television coverage on at her school all day. I was so upset about that, as if she were unprotected at school. Probably because–didn’t every inch of our nation feel unprotected for those hours that day? For several days after, because there were rumors of threats against schools in Texas, mounted police patrolled her school, and we made a plan of where to meet, in case something happened.

The world changed.

But here’s what didn’t change. People cared for each other that day. In New York and all over our country, people donated blood and loaded supplies onto trucks to take help to New York. Strangers helped each other, and families clung to loving each other.

Anger and fear are instinctive, but so are kindness and caring.

I grew up in an angry house, and I learned to be afraid at a young age. I learned to be angry when I’m afraid, but there came a time when I realized I could be one more link in an angry chain, or I could make sure I didn’t pass the problem on. I have no need to pass the problem on. So, when bad days come, like every September 11, when I’m afraid and angry and a little broken with grief, I choose to remember that love still exists, and kindnesses heal the one who acts as much as the one who receives. And most of all, embracing the good things, love and family, honesty and honor–we become stronger than fear.

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