Do you remember what you were doing on 9-11?
Like you, I’ve been asked that question countless times since that fateful day.
On September 11, 2001, I was lying in bed, trying to decide whether or not to hit the snooze button one more time. My clock alarm was set to play the local radio station when the alarm goes off, instead of an annoying buzz. As I struggled with consciousness, I became aware of a newscaster reporting that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
My first thought was that a small plane with maybe one or two people on board had gotten lost and had swiped a wing against the building. A phone call from daughter Em changed my mind.
“Are you watching the news? A plane just hit the World Trade Center. Go turn it on right now.”
I got out of bed, turned on the TV and was shocked to find that another plane had just hit the second building and that this was no small “oopsie” by an inexperienced pilot. I felt sick to my stomach as I watched further events take place. The Pentagon. Pennsylvania. The towers telescoping downward.
Were we at war? Were incidents like this taking place all over the country? Unsure, I called my boss and asked him if he wanted me to open the cell phone store that day. He felt we should try to proceed as normally as possible for the sake of the customers.
While at work, I worried about an uncle and his family who lived in New York City. An email from his sister assured me that all were safe. Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the world had changed in an instant.
We had three customers that day, instead of our normal sixty to eighty. A few popped in to look at our television to see if there were any new developments. The rest of the month was just as desolate. People did not want to sign a cell phone contract if they weren’t sure we would even have a country by the following month.
I felt as shocked by this as I imagine my parents were with the death of JFK. Suddenly no one felt safe. It could happen anywhere, to anyone.
My fifteen year old daughter said to me, “No one is paying any attention to me today!” I can understand her lament. What should have been a happy birthday for her, ended up being a day of sadness and grief. It was hard for anyone to celebrate on that day.
My first 9-11 experience happened twenty five years ago today. I labored all day and at 8:47 P.M. had a beautiful baby girl. One of the delivery nurses said, “Wow this is a big one! She’s at least eight pounds.”
I said, “So small? My first daughter was 8 pounds and fifteen ounces.”
Another said, “Maybe she’s a little bigger than that. I’m guessing at least eight and a half.”
Another said, “I’m guessing 9’2”.” She put my daughter on the scale and said, “She’s 9’15”!”
As baby Kay grew, she acquired some special nicknames---Tank, Conan the Destroyer, and Blitzkrieg. While her older sister, Em, was a calm, introspective, and sensitive child, Kay was energetic, extroverted, and fearless. She was always doing things to make us laugh. Well, maybe all of us except her older sister.
I snapped this photo as Kay socked Em while opening Christmas presents. See the older girl wondering what she had done to deserve that. She the younger girl gloating in triumph.
She still has a little bit of Lucille Ball in her:
Today, Kay is in Las Vegas, celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday with friends. Although this is a somber day, commemorating ten years since “that other” 9-11, I hope she is having a wonderful time with her friends. My prayer is that she knows how much her mother loves her and that she knows she has given me reason to have happiness each year on 9-11.
Happy 25th Birthday, Baby Girl!
[Disclaimer: Not to worry--the older sister eventually learned to fight back,
and got even by breaking her sister's finger.]