Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 Years Ago Tomorrow

10 years ago tomorrow. Everyone in the US know where they were, and what they were doing when they first heard the news. In Columbia, Missouri it was a little before 8 am. I was pulling in to the parking lot at work, listening to NPR. The announcer said there was a report of a small plane crashing into the World Trade Center. Huh, I thought, and turned the car off.

I sat down at my desk, and went through the normal morning routines. About 45 minutes later I went upstairs for a meeting. A large group of people were gathered around a radio. One of the secretaries turned around and looked at me. "Pancaked. Just pancaked," she said in a heart-broken voice. I had no idea what she meant.

10 years ago. I was 49 years old. I had lived in Columbia, Missouri for almost 30 years, and thought I would live there forever. My daughter had just left for her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. My son and my niece were sophomores at Rock Bridge High School, and my nephew was a 6th grader at Gentry Middle School. We lived in a big house out in the country. I was a computer programmer for the University of Missouri. We had a lab puppy named Marley. I rode horses, went for long walks, had a huge garden.

10 years ago. One of the first things I did was call Sarah. "Are you okay?" I asked her anxiously. "Mom," she said patiently. "I'm in Wisconsin". Then she paused. "This is big, isn't it," she asked. "Yes," I replied. "This is big. This is your generation's Pearl Harbor."

10 years ago. I cried and cried. I thought there would be a draft, and all of Sarah's young man friends would have to go off to war. I was thinking in simplistic terms, not imagining an enemy that would be so hard to find.

10 years ago, I wandered through Walmart, looking for an American flag to buy, but they were all sold out.

10 years ago, I stopped by the synagogue, tried to pray, but could not. I walked instead to Francis Quadrangle on the University campus. It was quiet and peaceful, a beautiful Missouri September day.

I don't know how to express the magnitude of the changes that 10 years have brought. I can leave it to the pundits and politicians to describe the changes we have experienced as a nation. I can't even fully fathom all the changes that have occurred in my own life in the past 10 years, let alone the entire country. I can't even figure out how to end this blog entry.

There is a full moon tonight. When I took Harper out to go potty before bed we looked up at the sky, smelled the clean clear air. There was a little sharpness to the wind, the first taste of fall.

10 years ago tomorrow was a beautiful clear blue September day. And tomorrow will be another beautiful day. I plan to go for a run, visit the farmer's market, take Harper for a walk. I plan to live my life, and that's the most fitting tribute any of us can make. We can live.


  1. Ten years ago we were waiting to bring Lesly home form Guate and meet Marco for the first time. We were supposed to travel that week to pick up Lesly and bring our dossier to start the adoption of Marco. I was looking at photos of Marco on e-mail. As I logged of e-mail I saw the report of the first strike and went to tell Greg. By the time I got back to the computer the second strike had happened. We spent the next week trying to get to Guate and to get the dossier together. All I could think of was to get to Guate. And we did a few days later. It was so scary and almost no one was flying. I remember airport security followed me into the bathroom when I changed diapers and searched everything, even patting down the baby sling. All these years we never even told the kids about 9/11 until a few months ago.

    Today we all made and hung prayer banners on a peace pole and rang 10 peace bells at church. Then blessed the backpacks and all the students and educators going back to school and had a nice barbeque. It was actually a very nice memorial and it is a beautiful September Day here too. Greg just went for a run and the kids are watching the Giants and will go play ball after the game.

    May we have peace soon and the wars end.

  2. Ah yes - the day the world changed in lots of ways and certainly in my heart. I sat there glued to the TV and crying and feeling like no one in this country where I live would really understand how I felt. I paced and cried at all the lives lost, all the terror and that safety was a relative term now. Thinking I could not go through this day alone and crying (and I didn't want to be with people) I got in my car and drove to the church up the street. I said - "please may I sit in the chapel" and they said ofcourse you can. So I prayed there and cried there and a nun came to me and said "I understand your desire to be alone but if you need me I am here. You are never alone - he is always with us." After awhile I felt like at least I could take a full breath again and deal with the future and grief ahead. But I could not watch this replay over and over in these days 10 years later. I had no desire to put my heart back there. I am all for mourning the loss still, but really I want to celebrate the lives that were. Replaying the visual on TV and in my heart felt like giving power to those who harmed us again.



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