After staying up really late trying to update my website (the term blog was not used back then) and schedule a newsletter, I almost didn’t realize the phone was ringing that Tuesday morning. It was 8:50 am and as I shook the cobwebs from my brain, all I could grasp was my husband frantically telling me to turn on CNN.
I did and thought I was looking at a Hollywood movie, perhaps Independence Day. Then I realized it was not fiction, though in many ways, it was the end of the world as I knew it. It was 9/11/2001.
The brutality of terrorism became even more painful when it dawned on me that people I knew were trapped in the Twin Towers. That pain became agonizing when I learned I would never see them again in the days that followed. And that pain still brings tears to my eyes when I think of my friends that lost parents, spouses, children and buddies. Perhaps it’s because a dear friend of mine lost her dad, and her father was instrumental in building the foundation of who I became professionally. Or perhaps it’s because her dad did not live to see what an amazing woman his daughter became and how many people she has helped over the years, or to see his other daughters get married and have children.
It’s hard to believe eleven years have passed. I admit that I cannot bear watching the news footage from that day and the weeks that followed, and not because I am in denial or because I live pretending life is fine and dandy always. It’s because those images became a part of me and they are still fresh in my mind. I do not need to see them on TV to remember.
After 9/11, I doubted whether I wanted to be a mother, whether I wanted to bring a child into this world. It was the only time in my life when I questioned my desire to be a parent. Why would I want to bring a child into a world full of evil? A world in which life didn’t seem to matter anymore. A world in which hate and violence had shattered my perception of what I thought was the safest place I could be in.
In the end, I decided that terrorism had already stolen too much from too many. For me, bringing a new life into the world and sharing all the love I have to give was the best way to show those filled with hate and evil how wrong they were. Eleven years later, I have two children and instead of instilling hatred, I teach them tolerance and respect. And I pray and hope that they never have to witness evil at its worst.
Last May when we were in New York City, we walked by the National September 11 Memorial site. We paused to reflect, I explained to my children why I was sad and realized why it was so important to share what happened. For me, that day is still a part of my life; for my children, however, it is a part of their history books. I needed to make it real and come to life, so the heroes of that sad day are never forgotten and our freedom, never taken for granted.
Dedicated to the memory of Herman Sandler, who will always live on in the memories of those who knew and loved him.