Sunday, September 14, 2008

Moving On

This week held anniversaries. Anniversaries are simply a yearly reminder of an event that occurred on that day. Most are remembered because they are joyful - a birth, a wedding, a graduation - and we mark them with celebrations and parties. Occasionally anniversaries remind of tragedy or sadness and they are remembered quietly.

The anniversaries I acknowledged this week were not joyful. But as these anniversaries have occurred more than once, I have come to have accept the sadness that comes with the day but have learned to embrace joyful life that exists today in spite of the sadness.

September 10th came quietly this year. I wrote the date on a check and felt a tug in my stomach but didn't know why. I wrote it again on a form at work and pondered why I had that feeling again. Late in the day, one of my sisters called and asked if it was bad that the day had passed without her realizing that it was the 3rd anniversary of our mother's death. I admitted that I had done the same, knowing it was significant for some reason but not identifying why. We decided it was neither bad nor good. It just meant that it hurt less and we were making peace with Mom's passing.

September 11th came with significantly more notice. I hope that we never forget this day. There are children in elementary school now that will study this day in their history books and only know that it occurred before they born. They can never understand the terror and devastation that occurred that day. I hope they never have to understand. The details of the day will be reduced to bullet points. They will be tested on times of day that the planes hit the towers, the Pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania, on the number of firefighters that died, on the number of employees at Cantor-Fitzgerald. They will not hear the personal stories of the families of those that were lost or of those who survived.

I have so many memories of that day.

I was getting off a plane in Atlanta at 8:50am and jumped on a conference call while waiting for my connection. As people came on the call, they were talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. While we were on the phone, the second plane hit. The Atlanta airport announced that all flights were canceled. Our boss told us to get off the phone. I got one of the last rental cars in Atlanta and drove home. My parents and my in-laws knew I was on a plane. They were frantically calling. My children were at school but they were watching the TV coverage. They knew I was on a plane. They knew I was on a plane at the time the planes were hitting buildings. My son went to the bathroom several times to use his cell phone to try to reach me. No one could get through. My husband had died 3 months before. They were panicked.

As I drove away from the city of Atlanta towards home, the calls started to come through. Nerves were calmed. I listened to the radio coverage. There was so much confusion and speculation. No one knew what was really going on. I went straight to my children's schools to pick them up. We huddled in our den and watched the TV coverage. I cried as the reporters clarified that the sounds we heard, which sounded like falling boulders on metal, were the sounds of people jumping from the building. The people covered with soot looked horrified. The twisted metal of the destroyed firetrucks brought memories of my husband's profession.

Everyone over the age of 10 has a memory or many memories of that day that will stay with them forever. How will we memorialize that day in the future? The names of the lost will be read for many years. There have been hunks of stone and steel placed already and there will be more to come that remind us of the lives lost and the heroic efforts of those involved. But I hope that everyone, everywhere, writes down their story. The survivors, the families of the lost, the observers. Everyone has a story. That is the way to help those that did not experience that day to understand that it is not just the facts they need to know. In each story lies the way September 11th, 2001 affected everyone in the country and the way it changed the way we live every day.

3 comments:

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Ruth D~ said...

Such memories. We all have them. And so soon there is a generation who can only read about it. Life goes on. But the memories!

Wanda said...

So beautifully writen Tere ~~ Lots of memories.

I was in the grocery store a few years ago, and wrote February 17th on my check....I had felt rather sad that day for no reason, but when I wrote that date, realized it was my mother's birthday, and she had been gone many years. I bought flowers that day and put them on her grave.

Thanks for reminding me of those moments in ones life.