Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/11: Remembering

It was an ordinary Tuesday. I woke a little late, so I was hurrying to get ready for work when Ralph came into the bedroom. He'd been working in his home office. His face stern, he strode to the TV. "You have to see this," he said.

"I don't have time; I'm running late."

"You have to watch," his said. His voice sounded strange, so I thought I'd humor him.

The TV clicked on. A New York skyscraper. Plane, fire, smoke. I dropped the shoes I'd been about to put on and stared. This couldn't be some special effects movie, it was real. "What's happening?" I asked.

"Someone's flown planes into the World Trade Center."

"An accident?"

"No." He sank down onto the bed. "Our lives will never be the same."

After a while, I couldn't watch any more. I went to work. At the preschool, parents were rushing in, grabbing their children and taking them home. Teachers were helping with backpacks and lunches. "Someone said they hit the Pentagon."

Who were "they?"

I decided to go back home. In the parking lot, I looked up. The sky was blue and cloudless, a beautiful September morning. But I didn't focus on that. I scanned for planes, listened for engine sounds, glanced fearfully at the buildings around me. I felt like a defenseless animal. What if the next plane headed to Houston?

At home, I called my business partner, then the office manager. We cancelled the rest of the day's appointments. Who would be interested in speech therapy on this day? I spent the rest of the morning in front of the television, mesmerized by scenes of carnage. How could this be happening in America?

Later that day Gayle, the office manager, and I picked up some Chinese food and brought it to a friend's house. Her husband was recuperating from surgery and we'd said we'd bring dinner. We sat together, stunned and confused, and tried to process the events of the day. We couldn't.

What is it about human beings that makes them do such evil things--bomb Pearl Harbor, invade Poland, assassinate a President? Why, when someone thinks differently or occupies a territory we want, do we resort to killing innocent people? Will we ever understand? Can we ever change?

Here's an eerie story from six months later. My partner came into my therapy room carrying a tiny blue plastic TV, part of a set of doll furniture we used with kids. "Look at this," she said and held up something we'd never noticed. The TV had a little picture pasted to the front: the Twin Towers.

I still use that set of furniture. Kids like to "turn on" the TV. And it still makes me feel creepy.

But it reminds me that we musst be vigilant so this never happens again. And that, somehow, people must learn to live and let live.


Michael Ann said... [Reply to comment]

I am reading all the 9-11 stories and blogs this morning. Just makes me feel connected with everyone on this day. Thank you for sharing your story, Thelma. That is bizarre about the dollhouse t.v. Wow.

Nancy MacMillan said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Thelma - You have been awarded the Liebster Blog Award. You can pick it up at my blog and post it to yours. The rules are listed on my post. Enjoy the love!!


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