Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

I have had this feeling of wanting to write something profound and amazing for my children to read about my personal experiences and feelings about September 11, 2001, but so far I have come up wanting. A few of the documentaries I did watch this past week have given my experiences on that day and more a feeling of inadequacy. However I would still like my children to be able to know how I, as their mother, dealt with this day and how it changed my life forever. I will start my story of September 11, 2001 on September 10, 2001, the day before.

My brother Matt arrived home from his Mission in New Zealand, clear across the world, after his flight was delayed a few hours. We all met him at the airport gate after going through a metal detector at security without tickets for a flight. That was the norm… Back to the story, when Matt walked off the plane we greeted him with hugs and smiles and a few tears. It was a great reunion, one I had been looking forward to for two years. We had people over at our house all night and then finally we went to sleep. How grateful I am that he came home on the 10th!

I awoke on September 11, 2001 around 7:00am and walked across the hall to the bathroom to get ready for work. My dad was up watching TV in the living room and mentioned something about a plane running into the World Trade Centers. I remember still to this day not thinking much about it. I did some stuff and then went into the living room to watch the news coverage. I told my dad that it could have just been bad navigation and went back to getting ready for work. I honestly don’t really remember what happened between then and me leaving for work, but something changed. My thoughts of an accident were changed to knowing that America had been attacked. The drive to work was somber. Not many people were out driving around and when I got to work it was worse. We wheeled a TV behind the teller line and watched it the ENTIRE day. Only one customer came in the whole day. The longer I watched the TV the more depressed I became. Seeing all the footage, the planes hit, the bodies jumping from the buildings, the battered people that survived and then the buildings collapsing, it was almost too much to take in. It was replayed a thousand times and each time I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Each replay, each detail added to this horrific story sunk my heart farther and farther into my chest. Finally the end of work arrived and I headed to a high school volleyball game I was coaching. The stands weren’t real full and there was an eerie feeling the whole time, as if we shouldn’t be living our ‘normal’ lives. It seemed almost selfish to do so when so many lives had been turned upside down that very day.

That night as I said my prayers I poured my heart out for those that had died, those that would die, those that would survive, their families and America. I cried and cried some more. Thousands of people I had never and would never meet had died and I was affected by each one. A very small portion of their misery was slapped onto my plate and the weighted of it seemed almost unbearable. Fear gripped the nation and bonded every one of us together. For once we all shared something in common… I could look at someone and know without a doubt that they had one of the same fears I had.

I still remember the silence as I walked to my class on the campus of UNLV. All planes had been grounded and the silence in the skies was almost deafening. UNLV is very close to the airport and there always seems to be a plane flying right over, nice and low and loud. But not then, no, not a sound could be heard in the sky on my walk to class. The walkways were quieter than normal and I almost felt ashamed to be going to school while people were still stuck under rubble and dying clear across the country. My first class that day was a US History class, so appropriate for the time. I remember the Professor coming in and sitting down on the desk. A somber look on his face and he started his lecture for the day. This man was one of order; he never deviated from his lesson schedule, however today he looked each one of us in the eye and said, "This is something we need to talk about, for this will be in the history of the US forever." He then had an open floor discussion with us. He asked our opinions, our feelings and what we thought would happen because of this. Although I recognized how big of an event this was I didn’t really process just how big it was. This was the "Pearl Harbor" of my day! I had lived through something of that magnitude, something that one day my children would learn about in their school classes. In that moment I knew that my life and those of the people around me and even those that didn’t exist would be changed and different forever.

Life was different for a quite a while. Finally the planes started flying again and rules and regulations were changed. Safety precautions were changed, added and implemented to try to keep America safe. People were changed for a while. They were nice, smiled and talked to one another. But eventually things changed back to normal. People became selfish and grouchy again and slowly life just moved on. The images of what happened on September 11, 2001 will always live in my mind. Anytime I see a plane flying low my mind and eyes scan the airway looking for a building, with a fear burning in my heart that some how it is all going to happen again! Each of us that lived through this event has evaluated our life, considered our decisions and pondered what we would have done if that had been us. How would we have reacted? I would love to think that I would have joined the group that fought back, stood for what I believed. I would love to think that had I been in the burning, mangled building I would have carried someone down 30 flights of stairs, done all I could to help others out. But reality is I don’t really know how I would have reacted. I might have sat on that plane and prayed with all my heart that it would some how be better, be over. Maybe I would be there wishing for someone else to do the hard stuff, to fight back. Maybe I would have ran down those flights of stairs as fast as I could, thinking about nothing but myself. My reaction in this situation will never be known, but the "what if’s" and wondering will probably never be gone.

Each September 11th the feelings come back, maybe not as fresh or as harsh, but they are still there. It gets better each year and after September 10, 2008 it became a lot different for me. On that day a feisty, blue eyed, brown haired girl was born and changed September to a different kind of month for me. As I sat watching TV in my recovery room in the hospital on September 11th, I held this little lady and was reminded again why life was SO. SO. SO. GREAT! As I looked in her eyes I knew she was my America. She was life continued, a reminder that life was different but better all at the same time. She has become the spirit of America to me, she is feisty, crazy, nice, beautiful and so much more. A terrible thing happened on September 11, 2001, a thing that will never be forgotten. Although it was a terrible thing some good came from it. We learned from it, we grew closer from it, many people prayed for the first time in ages. We were allowed to grieve in the open and that connected us to people we would never have connected to other wise.

So for my children, always remember that as crazy as this country may seem at times it was founded on correct principles. It is a great country to live in! Hold on to the hope that the majority of the people in America are good people. That in a time of crisis everyone will unite again and have a common bond. I pray, most of all, that you will never have to experience something like this for yourselves, but that if you do you will have courage, strength and love! I know it’s not much and far from profound, but it is what I felt, remember and wanted to share. I love this country but most of all I love you guys and your father the most!!!

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