For Patriot’s day, Megan’s school suggested the kids wear red, white & blue clothing. When Megan came home today, I asked her about her day at school and if everyone wore red, white & blue. “Yeah, a lot of kids did. It was kind of weird.”
“Why was it weird?”
“I don’t know why we had to wear it.”
“Well, it’s Patriot’s Day in America and wearing red, white and blue is a way to recognize this day.”
Megan thought for a moment and circled around our driveway on her bike. “There was a guy once who walked on a tightrope between the twin towers. Did you know that? He did. Really. But the twin towers aren’t around anymore. They don’t exist. I know what happened with the planes and the twin towers, you know.” She said.
I’ve been waiting for this day. The day that she would bring this up and the day that I knew I would struggle, depending on her age, with how much to tell her about that day. If only she was older than 7 I could tell her how after that day, the world as we Americans knew it would never be the same. For once we had experienced what many, many countries and people experience every.single.day of their lives. The shock, fear, grief and the utter sense of lack of control in your surroundings that once seemed untouchable.
“Oh? What happened?” I wanted to test the waters to see how much she had picked up on over the years. After all, she was wasn’t even 3 months old when 9/11 occurred.
“Well…” she said as she continued to ride around the driveway. “There were a couple of robbers. They robbed the planes and then flew them into the twin towers and it wasn’t even an accident!” Even at her age and even with her most basic explanation of events, I could sense her disbelief at something so unbelievable, so evil.
“Yes, it was a very bad thing that happened. I still remember where I was when I found out about it and saw it happening on TV.”
“Really?” She stopped pedaling and looked at me. “Where were you?”
“Well” I said, choosing my words carefully and letting my memories carry me back to that day. “I was sitting in my bed and you were really little. You were only a few months old. I had you on my lap and I was rocking you. I was watching a TV show and they started showing one of the towers after the first plane hit. And as I was watching, the second plane hit the other building. I remember thinking that maybe it was still an accident-that maybe the second plane got confused in the smoke and hit the tower by mistake.”
“But it wasn’t a mistake.” Megan corrected me.
“You’re right. It wasn’t but I wanted to believe it was. Those were some very bad people that did that. It was a very sad time. Then I took you to your babysitter but after an hour or so, I went to pick you up and brought you home.”
“Why did you do that?”
“Because nothing like that had ever happened in our country before. It was a pretty scary time and I just felt safer having you home with me.”
Megan thought for a moment and then said, “That’s weird.”
I left it at that and we walked inside the house. Someday, when she’s older I’ll tell her more…I’ll paint a more vivid picture of how that day changed our world.
I’ll tell her about how for days, no weeks, I sat in front of the television absorbing the terror others were experiencing; absorbing it to the point where I had nightmares and Jay scolded me to turn off the television to just have a moment of inner peace.
I’ll share the fact that it is because of those events that news programs now have the scrolling news items and headlines across the bottom, providing constant updates.
How everyone on 9/11 and in the days following became all too familiar with the name Cantor-Fitzgerald and how those names will forever be linked to 9/11.
How after that day, some good, decent people had their lives made more difficult simply because of the way they looked or the religion they chose to practice.
That for probably the first time in our country’s history, we had a surplus of blood donations that were meant for survivors- survivors who didn’t exist.
That it wasn’t just the Twin Towers but our Pentagon and who knows what other landmark I would have had to include in that list had it not been for those brave people on flight 93.
That for years after that day, every time I boarded a flight for work my palms started to sweat and even now I am reluctant to fly long distances because I know long flights, with full gas tanks, make the ideal weapon.
And I’ll tell her about the Oprah show that I went to that October that broke my heart. The new widow with a 7 month old baby inside her sobbed and contemplated what her life would be like raising a baby without her husband. My heart ached for her and still does. Every 9/11 I find myself wondering how she’s doing. Has she picked up the pieces? Has she been able to move on?
But for now, that’s enough. For now...