Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Ago...

"Where were you?" A simple question right? My generation rarely needs further explanation to this before they start recounting the events of September 11, 2001.  This day forever changed us as individuals and as Americans.

Where was I? Let me say that my story isn't dramatic, I was far from New York on this day. But it is still my story.

As if it was just yesterday, or maybe just last week - I can still remember every detail of the morning of September 11, 2001.  It was the start of "casual week" in my office, as all the key players of the company I worked for were flying to Florida from all over the country for a week of meetings.  My brain does this, records every little detail of a significant event, so that no matter what I will not forget. 

I was wearing a white, 3/4 length sleeve shirt with yellow strips, wide leg "sailor" style jeans and white keds.  My hair was pulled back into a pony tail, and life was pretty good.  I was dating a great guy, had a great job, and lived in the greatest country on the planet.  I remember sitting at my desk just outside my boss's office and hearing him answer the phone.  For some reason, I had looked at the clock just as it changed to 8:55.  I heard him say to his wife "Honey, calm down.  I am sure it was just an accident.  Who would attack the U. S.?" He spoke to her a few more minutes before coming out of his office to tell us that an airplane had just smacked into the side of the World Trade Center.  He, myself and several of our co-workers ran down the hall to the work out center and turned on the televisions there.  We watched in horror as the building burned and saw people jumping to their death to avoid the flames.  We were watching as the second plane slammed into the building during the live coverage. I remember in the days following hearing a statistic that it took a New York news crew the same number of minutes to arrive live on a scene as were the number of minutes between the two planes hitting.   I remember several times my boss told us "We should just get back to work, this has to be a  mistake.  It just has to." I remember thinking that he was wrong.  Even then, before we knew what was happening, I knew.

I remember wanting to go home, to just be with my Mom. I remember hearing the screams and cries coming from another department near mine: Someone had a brother who worked in Tower One. Here we had it, a connection to this, this...tragedy we watched unfold.  (Just a note, due to a freak set of circumstances the brother did not make it to work that day, and was safe)

I remember we didn't get a lot accomplished that day.

I remember coming home that night from work and my Mom had made small red, white and blue bows to hand from our rear view mirrors in our cars.  Mine stayed almost 9 years until it finlly fell down.
I remember wishing I could have done something more for those people, wishing I could have thanked the brave men and women who gave their lives for others, praying for those who survived.

In the days that followed, I remember seeing the firemen at the major intersections of our city with their boots collecting money to send to their brothers and sisters in New York.  I remember watching news recaps of stories of survivors. I remember that the churches were filled to capacity and beyond in the weeks that followed,  I remember thinking that nothing would ever be the same again.

As years passed I wished I could have spoken to some of the families of survivors.  To know more about these men and women who died in this attack.  I wish I could tell Lisa Beamer that the story of her husband's bravery and his phrase of "Let's Roll" would lead to my atheist boss asking about God and salvation almost 5 years after the attack.  A door that I would NEVER have thought would open.

That is where I was on September 11, 2001.  I will not forget.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

525,600 Minutes

"Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?"
 - Lyrics from "Seasons of Love", Rent
How do you measure this time?

One year ago we left our house as a couple, and returned 12 hours later as a family.  One year ago.

One year ago dear friends took their time to drive us to another state to pick up our son, because they love us (and love him).

It seems crazy to write that.  In so many ways he has just always been here. In reality it has been 12 months, 52 weeks, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes.  Some of those minutes have seemed longer than others... but you'll have that.

That day was much like my wedding day.  I remember just snapshots of silly things from my wedding day.  Almost like I wasn't really there for it, just looking at the pictures.  The day we brought our son home was much the same.  I remember cleaning the bathroom for the umteenth time that week, and vacuuming again and again.  Checking that his beding was made up just so (knowing it would most likely be a while before he slept in it.)

I remember freaking out because the plane icon on the "track this flight" page had "turned around" (refreshing the page fixed the graphic - but until then I was sure that the plane had turned around just off the west coast of the U.S. and headed back to Seoul.)

I remember wanting to throw up, a lot.  And my sweet friend not missing a beat in telling me she would hold my hair back if I needed her too.

I remember the flight attendant coming through customs and seeing us there with all the baby paraphernalia and no baby - and ask if we were waiting for our son and crying tears of joy when we said yes.  She told us he was just beautiful.

I remember the frosted glass doors of customs opening and hearing a little guy crying and knowing it was my son - and being right.

I remember changing his diaper for the first time on the back seat of the car, in the dark, because I sure as hell wasn't going to do that for the first time in a nasty rest stop bathroom.

I remember hearing him laugh for the first time when we arrived home, with my Mom. Hearing that sweet sound and knowing we were all going to make it.  (That moment is pictured below.)

I remember looking at my friend just before they left us, my eyes huge in fear of being alone (with my husband of course, but still) with this child and her taking me by the shoulders and saying "You can do this.  You were made to do this.  And you have my cell number if you need it."  I knew I could call any time day or night.  'Cause she's great like that.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes have passed since that day. Measured in moments of laughter and tears, moments of triumph and moments of not so great times.  Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes that I wouldn't trade for anything.  Minutes of hearing the sweet laughter come from my son, watching him learn to crawl, then walk.  Learn the world around him.  Watch his devotion to us, knowing we are his just as much as he is ours.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes measured with love.