Monday, May 2, 2011

After Talking About it All Day...

I find myself speechless.  I spent my whole day talking to teenagers about 9/11.  They remember it - as much as a first or second grader can.  They gave me an interesting insight - they have no memories of life before the fear.  No memories before the teeny bottle limits.  No memories of being able to greet loved ones the moment they get off the plane.  They have no idea of what life was like before the towers fell.

They remember where they were, what they were doing.  Not quite in the same detail that I do.  I was standing in the back of my classroom, when I had prep first thing in the AM - on top of two bookcases in the back corner.  I was putting my middle schoolers' "cave paintings" from our Early Man unit up on the bulletin board.  I was wearing bibs, a blue and white striped shirt with my red, white and blue Chuck Taylors.  My hair had not been straightened yet, I only had 1 kid.  It was down and pulled back in a headband.  Two kids popped in with the news (I remember their names and what they were wearing.).  "Mrs. H!   Mrs. H!  A plane just ran into the World Trade Center!"  I didn't believe them.  They had just come from the office where the 27" (BIG TV by school standards) had the news on.  I remember saying, "Wow!  I wonder what went wrong with their navigation systems."   As we entered the office, the 2nd plane hit.  I sunk into one of the seats with my jaw wide open.  It took my breath away.  But I still felt there must have been some interference with the radars.  Terrorists never entered my mind.  I was not naive, but in hind-sight, it is the one point in my adult life I truly considered myself sheltered.

I will remember where I was when I heard about the death of this despot.  I will remember my reaction when I saw the Tweet regarding the President wanting to talk to me at 2130.  I will remember that bin-Laden never crossed my mind - I thought it would have been an update regarding the other in Libya.  Once again I was left with my jaw hanging open.

(/11 - It was a long day of talking.  Kids trickled out as terrified parents picked up their kids, not wanting their kids in a downtown school when we had no idea WHAT was going on.  I talked - to calm, to discuss, to inform, to break the tension - I talked ALL DAY!  Then I got home.  I tried to keep my 18 month-old away from the TV at all costs.  All of these memories came flooding back.  Spending my birthday, in silence at the end of the driveway for a nationwide candle light vigil at 7pm.  I also remember that I was married to a teacher.  We talked to kids, that was how we handled things.

Now, I am married to a firefighter. Talking would not be enough this time around.  He would be gone.  He would be with whatever crew was heading out to the site of the tragedy.  I KNOW him.  He is not okay just talking, he needs to DO something.  I think of the 343 and my heart sinks.  Had it been 9/11/11 instead - he would have been out there.  Had we lived anywhere near Ground Zero - he would have been there.  His sole thought would have been getting the victims home to their families.  I am so grateful to be married to such a man.  It is also frightening.  IF this happens here, he will be there.  Losing him...I can't even begin to think of it.  Just typing this with my FF sleeping next to me, is causing my throat to tighten and my eyes to burn.

I am done talking.  I don't want to talk about the hows, whys, whats anymore.  I don't want to discuss the culture and theology of both sides anymore.  I am done talking.  But, my head doesn't shut down so easy. I think of the parents who lost their children.  I weep for the babies who will never meet their daddies.  For the marriage torn apart - through death or pain and stress, I grieve.  For the 343, I say a prayer.  A prayer of thanksgiving, a prayer for their families, a prayer for their souls, a prayer of healing for those left behind  and selfishly, a prayer that it is never my husband.  But in my heart of hearts, I know it could be.  We all do - military spouses, fire spouses and law enforcement spouses - we all know it could be us that others are saying the prayers for.  We at some level accept it, while at the same time totally and completely ignore it.

So, while my 16 year-olds were celebrating during our discussions, I was praying.  The loss of life yesterday, was still a tragedy.  I can't celebrate.  I understand, but I am not jubilant.  A chapter has ended and another begun.  I can't talk about it was a long day.

So, instead, I will say a prayer.  A prayer for those we lost and those who left behind to mourn.  We will never forget.
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