Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11th- Find the Joy

15 Years Later

9/11 didn't touch me too personally; it was my child it has forever touched.  She is not a deceased victim of 9/11; she is here with us.  This day defines her to the world; for it was her 4 year old birthday, a beautiful, sunny morning.  Morning drop-off to the Shamrock Preschool complete, I went home and turned on the Today Show, in prep mode for her planned small, family friends dinner and cake celebration that evening.

My in-laws had just left for Rockport after a short visit and my husband was at work.  I worked in the house, putting breakfast away, Andrew playing "Little People" and Emily napping in her bouncy seat.  The "Today Show" was on TV in the living room of our split entry.  The morning was good.  

I was standing up, I don't remember exactly what I was doing, when the first plane hit and all cameras zoomed to the 2 World Trade Center towers.  

The day was a blur.   I watched TV, called loved ones, especially those I knew traveled and flew regularly.  I picked up Julia at preschool, put her in the basement to play and watch a video, and at some point walked out the front door.  Neighbors in our quiet cul-de-sac had gathered in the street, all of us dazed, all of us scared.  The sky was noticeably quiet, for above our neighborhood we usually heard or saw planes on their way to land at Hanscom Air Force Base multiple times per day.

In the days and weeks later, we would learn of folks we knew who lost their lives that day, including a high school teacher of mine.  We learned who Osama Bin Laden was and that some of the hijackers had stayed the night before at a Days Inn near where we lived when my husband was in grad school, a place I had driven by dozens if not hundreds of times.

For my family, this is the bigger story.

At 10:42 p.m on 9/11/97, I gave birth to a beautiful 6 pound, 15 ounce baby girl.  Three months later, she almost died after her heart stopped working.  She has faced so many challenges in her life.  Last weekend, we celebrated her birthday with a small party.

The day after 9/11/01, Julia drew a picture of what she described as a "plane crashing into a building".  I still have that picture.  The comments people make about "what a terrible birthday" we now realize will happen every year too often around her birthday.  There's still a little gasp when someone asks when her birthday is after we answer.
19th Birthday
On her 4th birthday, yes, our country was attacked.  That evening, we muddled through a birthday celebration with our closest friends J and J and K and J and their baby, M.  We had a cake and sang "Happy Birthday".  There were presents.  Once the kids were settled in bed, we adults all sat, in shock, and watched a Presidential Address on the TV in my living room.   In retrospect, I am glad to have shared such a painful day with our then very best friends; for it was not a day to be alone.

Julia's just a human being with a birthday.  What happened on that day is awful and evil, but it doesn't define her.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A decade

The saying goes "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger".

10 years ago tomorrow, my (then boring, suburban housewife, stay at home mom of 4) life changed when a very close friend of 8 years, who was in my wedding, suffered a psychotic breakdown.  

She was the friend who I trusted implicitly with my kids, who I went out to dinner or breakfast (forever am I thankful for the introduction to Soundbites) with every week or so, shared play dates and New Years Eve's with our kids, watched the X-files with every Sunday, brought me chocolate, food, hugs, and tissues when my boy was diagnosed with autism, supported my beginnings going back to professional work with, worshipped with on Sundays, whose family celebrated holidays with ours when our extended families weren't present, who we spent the evening of September 11th, 2001 with, and whose oldest child I cared for the night her youngest was born.  That kind of beautiful friendship--one which wasn't work, didn't have unreasonable commitments, and where there were never any fights. 

March 11, 2006.  I saw this friend, having pulled clumps of hair out of her head, clutching a photo of her kids, saying over and over again she was under surveillance by the FBI through her TV.  

My heart broke for her. For her children. For I knew her life as she knew it, successful career and all, was never to be the same again. 

That day affected her, her children, my children, and I in unimaginable ways.  I would never not help someone who needed it, but I am wiser not because I wanted to be, but because I had to be.  My family suffered because I made the choice to support hers.  Two beautiful children in my care, in addition to my own. In the end, that friend too sick, and maybe eventually too guilt-ridden and worn down by others in her life, to say even a quiet thank you.  She can't express gratitude perhaps because she can't or won't accept what happened and her role in it.  I have no choice but to forgive that. 

My soul is a bit wearier, but my heart remains open to being kind, helping my village, and always looking for the best in those around me.  

What a journey-- grateful to the friends who have traveled it with me, from an innocent and fun lunch at Ruby Tuesday's on...