Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11th -"Mommy, what happened to the castle?"

Today is September eleventh, seven years after the fall of the World Trade Center. I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that it has been that long; it feels way more recent. I remember that day, but more clearly I remember how I felt. I usually avoid the specials on TV every year because I know I'll cry and a small part of me will relive that day, but for some reason I had to watch one this year. It was all the raw footage taken by the people who were there, with no one commentating, just the radio recordings and news reporters and no commercials. 102 minutes. That's how long it was between the first plane hitting and the second tower finally falling. The entire time I watched I had tears in my eyes alternating between cold tears and fresh ones. There is something strange about having cold tears in your eyes, something that feels appropriate for remembering this day. Our whole world had changed in the blink of an eye and if that day had played out like any other day I don't think we would be in the America that we are today, be that good or bad.
As I watched, I remembered how that day had played out for me. I was a senior in high school and it was the first year that I was able to drive myself to school. Merissa(my younger sister) was a freshman that year and as we drove to school all I wanted to do was listen to some music, but every channel on the radio kept talking about some plane crashing into a building….I was 17, I think and I had no idea what the world trade center was; I just remember being annoyed that I couldn't find any music. Man I was naive and innocent…kind of like all of us. As I watched that footage tonight I realized, people were upset when the first tower was hit but nowhere as horrified as they were when the second plane came. It seems like no mater how much lead up we have, people still seem utterly shocked when disaster strikes. I didn't get upset that day until I finally listened and realized it wasn't an accident, but on purpose. Merissa and I went home early and watched the news all day.

The thing that still affects me the most is when I saw the people jumping out of the windows. I immediately was filled with horror and found myself wondering what I would do in their shoes. They were forced to be brave, because either choice, to stay and burn to death or to jump to death, they had to be brave. It's profoundly different to have death just happen to you, then to have to choose how you want to die; what you are brave enough to do…
As I watched, with tears in my eyes, my three year old daughter crawled into my lap and exclaimed,"Mommy what happened to the castle?! It's going to fall down? That's too naughty!" I didn't know what to say. I realized that I'm going to have to explain to her what happened and why. Why there is evil in the world. I guess I thought I still had some time to figure it out, but at three, she already knows the difference between good and bad. Good and naughty. I can't shield her from the naughty in this world, or spare her any pain in knowing what humans are capable of doing to other humans. Then she got mad at me for crying and told me to "Cheer up! It'll be okay." She cuddled with me for a while and then told me," I don't want to watch anymore. It's too naughty!" I guess I don't need to shield her, just protect her sense of love and giving. That incidences like this one are just tantrums in the infancy of humanity, that maybe some day we will grow up…

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