On 9/11/01, I was practicing criminal defense law. Pregnant with Oldest, I had just gotten through that all important first trimester. Husband and I were going to California that Friday for a vacation - our first time to CA.
I remember being behind a courtroom waiting to talk to a normally placid, stoic, unflappable judge about one of my clients, when he came billowing out of his chambers. Billowing is the only way to describe it too - he had his robe on, but it was unzipped and was literally flying behind him like a cape.
"Turn on the TV in here, someone has just declared war on America!" He cried. It gives me cold chills just writing it, remembering the terror, YES terror, I felt at that moment. Didn't we all feel it? Didn't those terrorists succeed in exactly what the definition of their name is? In less than one hour, they struck fear at the very core of all of us. The place we hardly ever dare to look because it's where we lock all of our most vulnerable emotions.
Within an hour, the courthouse where I worked was closed (which had never happened before - no blizzard had ever closed that courthouse), and I was driving home on the most beautiful day imaginable. Not a cloud in the sky, sun shining, warm, gorgeous fall day. Driving on cruise control, really, because I couldn't even think in more than 1 and 2 word thoughts.
Are we going to die? That one was the biggest one.
I remember watching the towers get hit, over and over and over on the TV. Wondering how awful the destruction was going to end up being. Not being able to get through on the phone to anyone, it kept saying "Due to heavy call volume, please try your call again later." Wondering if my family was ok. It taking almost a day to catch up with everyone.
I think, to a certain extent, the pain and terror we all felt on that day HAS to be dulled. Otherwise, we would be too paralyzed with fear, doubt, worry. But I don't want to ever forget that terror we felt and the patriotism we felt in the days after. How our country rallied together and truly believed "we WILL survive this because we are Americans."
I haven't told Oldest much, if anything about 9/11/01 yet. How do you convey the fear of that time and the hope that followed to a 7 year old? Especially a 7 year old who has so much anxiety and worry like she does. I don't want her to feel, yet, the kind of fear I had that day. When I felt for the first time in my life that my freedom, one of the strongest bases upon which our country was founded, was in jeopardy. I'm just not ready to go there with her, even though a part of me says I should talk to her about it - I owe her the beginning of an explanation.
I would love to hear how people share this day with their gifted kids. They take things so seriously and to heart. Have you found a way to teach them about 9/11 without scaring them senseless? Let me know if so.
And always remember.