I’ve no desire to watch the 9/11 ten year anniversary events. I lived not far from Washington, DC, slightly closer than now on that day, and I will never forget how the world changed, suddenly, horrifically. Home sick, phone call from husband saying a plane has hit the World Trade Center. Turn on the TV and sit there watching, stunned. The plane hits the Pentagon. Lots of sirens. Call my mom in Massachusetts, who has already left me a message on my office voice mail. Call my boss. They are all okay but in shock, not really doing any work and can’t go home because roads are shut down and the area is gridlocked. Call my friend in DC, who has just started graduate school, is home alone, and doesn’t have a TV, only internet. Call my friend in Pennsylvania because I have no idea where she is in relation to Shanksville. Check in with other friends, realize none of us knows where exactly our friend in New York works, only that she’s at a bank downtown. Watch the towers fall. Cry when my husband gets home from work later that night, in time to watch another newscast and see the replay of the plane hit the tower yet again, and think about how many husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, friends, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers never make it home that day. Relief the next day when we hear from NY friend that she’s safe. Sadness as the days pass and we realize there will be no survivors. A struggle to return to “normal” because normal no longer seems to exist.
I’ve seen it, lived it, been forever altered by what happened that day. Someday my daughter, now three, will read about what happened in a textbook. She’ll never really understand. At the time I didn’t understand the reactions of my friends who were parents because they seemed so unaffected. I know that wasn’t true—they were just being strong for their kids. Now I get that.
So instead of watching the footage that has been burned into my soul, I’d rather watch a giggling three-year-old spin around in her new sparkly red shoes. Because if I don’t laugh, I’ll be crying. This is the kind of hope and joy we need to hold onto. Ten years, twenty years, it doesn’t matter. We will never forget.