Monday, September 11, 2006


As I get older, I find myself purposely trying to avoid situations that will evoke excessive emotion in me. I don't read "tissue warning" e-mail forwards. I don't watch many schmaltzy, made-for-TV movies. I don't listen to St. Jude telethons. It's not that I'm hard-hearted and don't want to feel the emotions these things evoke. It's the opposite. I know how easily I'll feel them, and they often leave me raw. I don't like that feeling. That vulnerability.

For most of the day today, I didn't tune into any news web sites. Our TV is still not hooked back up to the cable, so watching television news was not an option. We don't get a newspaper. Thus, it was not hard for me to avoid these annual reminders of what this day will always mean. The closest I got to any of it was while waiting for my drink at Starbucks and glancing at the cover of the New York Times. And then glancing away again.

Still, how can you have lived through that day five years ago and not remember? You can't. And that's why, after a day of purposeful avoidance, I found myself surfing through news sites tonight...looking at all-too-familiar pictures that hit me like a sharp blow to the stomach as they evoked vivid memories of that blue skied the middle of teaching my then 5 and 6 year olds math when my phone was my friend, knowing I wouldn't have the TV on at that time of day..."You need to turn on the television," she said..."...and so I did, and there my children and I watched together as the towers began to crumble and fall, people still standing in the windows...and the world -- my world -- was forever shaken.

I asked my kids tonight if they remembered what happened on September 11th five years ago...if they remembered the pictures I was looking at on the computer. My daughter, the younger of the two, said she remembered the stories but not the pictures. I told her it was just as well. My son? He remembers. He can recount the horror of that day. I'll never forget the prayer service we attended at our church that evening five years we were all invited to share what we were feeling with those around us, and my six year old son piped up, in a voice beyond his years, and said, "I just don't know..." Everyone there could have said the same thing.

So I've felt the feelings I wished I could have avoided today, and I remembered in my own way, at my own speed. And I reflected on how much our world has changed. On how my kids will never know anything other than a post-9/11 world. How I feel proud of the people who have gone to fight and die as a result of all this, and how I wish they didn't have to be there. And how, so many of my days, I live without giving thought to any of this, how I just take for granted that it will be a normal, safe, mundane kind of day. The kind of day I can go and get a drink at Starbucks without fear or trepidation. The kind of day when the sounds of air traffic blend in and go unnoticed. And how I need to be more aware that every normal, safe, mundane kind of day is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

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