Friday, September 11, 2009


Today is 9/11.

I never liked history. It bored me. It was something I could not relate to since I wasn't alive for any of it. My eyes glazed over as a student taking the required courses.

My husband loves history, can't get enough of it. He has always been able to see how it relates to him. His mom was pregnant with him when JFK was shot. His mom has always told him the stories of where she was and how it felt and in that way- he felt connected. I think that's where his love and appreciation for history began- he could relate to it- he saw how his life was affected by it.

September 11, 2001 was that point in my life, when something so huge happens in your world, that it makes you take a step back and appreciate everything and look at the big picture. A time when you see that things are bigger than you and the bubble you live in. A point when you realize it's not all about me.

Sadly, regretfully, I was 29 when this tragedy brought that revelation to light.

Eight years later, instead of harping on the sadness of that day, I think of the positives that grew from living that experience. I am more conscious of my world and interested in learning what led us to where we are today.

This is my account of what happened from my view on that day (posted last year). The man that was killed was also my son's best friend's uncle.

My son was only 5. His favorite subject in school is History.

I'm now proud of that...

Seven years ago, I had a 10 month old that was going through a bad habit of waking at 4:30AM- screaming for a bottle. I had a routine of going to her room in a zombie state, bottle in hand, and feeding her as I sat in the rocking chair in her room. Not being a morning person, the broken sleep was more than I could stand. I stumbled my way back to my bed and cozied in. My husband would leave for work at 5:30, right as I was getting the baby and myself back to sleep.

My 5 year old was just a few days away from starting Kindergarten. Luckily, I had trained him well enough to pour cereal and turn on cartoons for he and his 2 year old sister as I caught up on my beauty sleep!

I remember the clock read 7:58 (Central time) and the phone rang. I remember cursing my husband in my mind for dare waking me out of my slumber before my babysitter, Dora the Explorer's, time was up. I'm sure my tone of voice was not welcoming to my neighbor, a friend and fellow stay at home mom, who was actually on the other end of the phone.

She asked if I was watching TV. I recall trying to 'play off' the fact that I was sound asleep while my kids fend for themselves. I'm, uh, cleaning, the television is on Nickelodeon, but no, I'm not watching it, why?

She goes on to say that she assumed that I was watching kid's TV, like her, and that I probably had no idea of what was going on. Her husband had just called her and told her to turn on the news- that the World Trade Center had just been hit by an airplane.

Let me say that I was relatively young, very naive, non-political and a horribly ignorant Midwestern. I didn't even know what the World Trade Center was. I turned on the TV and was immediately enthralled in the tragedy. I had no idea what any of it meant, at that point, but I couldn't take my eyes off of it and wanted to learn.

My husband called shortly after my neighbor. He had been in a class for work and was given a 15 minute break and caught the news. I remember two things he said... 1.) The people in this class don't care, they don't get it! 2.) You know this means we're at war, right?

He was horribly disturbed by the fact that his class continued on after a short break- even with the knowledge of what had happened. This was still shortly after the first plane hit. There were still reporters justifying the acts as 'a possible accident'. I didn't know any better, they could have been right, for all I knew. But, my husband, the conspiracy theorist, knew- from that first moment. I dismissed him, at first, as I usually do. Then, I watched the second plane hit as I was living and breathing!

The news commentators slowly began unraveling the dark, ugly truth that we have all come to know today. I sat in front of the television for 48 hours straight- I may have dozed off for a couple hours here and there, but as the facts, personal stories, and gritty emotion poured out of, otherwise monotonous anchors, I couldn't pull myself away.

In my little part of the world, I was relatively unscathed, on a personal basis. However, one of my friends, a neighbor, had a brother that had a business meeting at the World Trade Center that morning. He had flown from Kansas City that morning and she had spoken to him after the first plane hit- all was well. He hadn't arrived at the designation, yet, but hung around and still planned to make his meeting, after all had been cleared.

After the second plane hit, she felt confident that he was out of harm's way. She still made efforts to call him on his cell phone to make sure. A stranger answered his cell phone which was lying on the streets of New York. Some members of her family spent the next week in New York hospitals in the 'search' for the missing and unidentified that we all so eerily remember being pasted up and down the city's scape. Sadly, within days, they learned that he had been hit on the street by a large piece of flying debris from the second plane's entrance and killed.

I remember our neighborhood having a candlelight vigil and my friend breaking down and falling to her knees. I remember all of us rushing to help her up and comfort her, as nearly impossible as that was. I remember the goose bumps, the tears, and the helplessness I felt were overwhelming. I remember the new found feeling of patriotism- the pride I felt with every flag that lined our streets. I remember the anger and the uncertainty of our future as Americans.

I cried a lot and hugged my kids more. This was my "JFK" moment. I would always know "where I was when...".

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Jennifer said...

Hi Tena,
Been reading your archives for several days now. (At work, of course, so productive!)
I love your writing and your "real-ness" and have found that you and I have a lot in common...scary A LOT, actually. I've added you to my Google reader. Keep up the good writing!

Jill said...

9/11 is a tough day for us as well... my hubby was working (as usual) in his building which was about 5 blocks away from the twin towers... It took me 5 hours to reach him.. and when I he finally came home that night he collapsed - literally - and sobbed like I've never seen a man cry. I didn't see him for weeks after that - he was working recovery at the scene.

Eight years later we still don't talk about it very much. Living there and seeing/smelling the smoke for weeks after. Well, it's a scene you never, ever forget.

Kori said...

Even after all these years, I watched some of the flashback footage and sobbed.

Rachel said...

I just got chills and teared up.. again.

I remember exactly where I was. We were newlyweds and we sat for a day on our couch watching and hugging and holding hands as I cried.

It's almost inconceivable, even 8 years later.

Susan in the Psych Ward said...

I still cry every time I think about it. It's the moment that makes me hug my husband and daughter tighter. I was getting my class ready for school that morning and my daughter was on the floor above me in her fist FULL week of 3 year old kindergarten. I just wanted to run upstairs and take her home and keep her safe. It's the day that changed my life.

MrsSki said...

I've never really been a fan of history either. It always seemed so boring to me. But I will never forget where I was on September 11, 2001 and I hope I never do.

Your post was awesome and it touched my heart. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Em said...

I've spent the weekend reading over all the 9/11 posts - even though it is so difficult to remember, I'm glad so many people do.

I'm so very sorry for your friend's loss. And for so many more families.

Annie said...

I remember it well. I was trying to get a video in my History class ( I would SO entertain you and make you LOVE it!) and had cable on while I was rewinding. Needless to say, we never switched from the CNN we had on. My new husband of 6 months helped me try to locate and find out the status of my ex-boyfriend who was a NY Firefighter. I didn't have the balls to call his family because there are 3 sons who are either NYPD or NYFD. I couldn't bear to ask the mother if any of them died.
He called me 2 weeks after the event and I nearly drove off the road. He was alive. Somehow all 3 brothers survived. 2 were off duty and called in and he was on duty, but at a new station he transferred to 2 weeks prior. Every member of his previous station died. To hear him talk of what he was going through, what it was like, and the guilt for getting that transfer stopped me in my tracks.
We are all so blessed to have people like him who risk their lives in an effort to help people survive.

Under the Influence said...

I'm not a fan of history either, but the week of Sept. 11 this year, I visited Pearl Harbor, another horrible day in American history. On Sept. 10 this year, I celebrated my 8 yr. anniversary of my first brain surgery, and on Sept. 11 every year, I remember my foggy realization as I lay in ICU after surgery and watched the events that so changed this world.