Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Ok, I need to recount my memories of September 11th, 2001. Of course, I had just celebrated my 40th birthday, blissfully unaware of the atrocities that would be committed the next day.

I sometimes think of that, how ironic, that on my 40th birthday we could still accompany guests to the gate of their flight, we rarely heard fighter jets flying over, we didn't have to be at airports 2 hours in advance and then still barely make it, we didn't have to listen to the media speculate what and where the next terror attack may take place, worrying they're giving these bandits an awful lot of good ideas! The World Trade Center was still just that, a building to go up in and look out over New York, 2800+ people were still alive, a group of little kids was still looking forward to their trip to Los Angeles. "Ground Zero" was still a term to be used in case of a nuclear war. And much more!

What a difference a day makes! During the night of the 10th, I had gotten sick, something I ate, I guess. I was in no state to take care of children the next morning, so Rick canceled his appointment at the Pentagon to help take the kids to school. This saved us numerous hours of worry or worse, as it turned out.

When he got back from dropping the children off, he came running upstairs and said: "If you ever saw a towering inferno, watch this!" and turned on NBC news. As we were watching the coverage of the first tower in flames, we witnessed the second plane hitting the other tower. It didn't register. In shocked horror we kept watching, unable to tear ourselves away. Then the announcer stopped mid sentence and said they were going to Washington. I'll never forget Jim Miklazevski's words: "I don't want to alarm anyone, but I just felt this building shake."

About an hour later, when all planes should have been grounded, but word had not come yet of the 4th hijacked plane, I heard a plane above our house. I never felt as scared as I did then!

My father was working in Washington at the time the Pentagon plane hit and it took hours for him to contact us or get home. We knew he was nowhere near the Pentagon, but we couldn't imagine what people who had loved ones in the Pentagon must have felt!

I called the school to ask if we could get the children. We were told the superintendent had determined it would not benefit the children to be taken out early and were advised to leave them at school. In retrospect, we should have gotten at least the oldest, as classmates were picked up by their parents and at such rates, that the kids started thinking worse things had happened than the actual events.

Reacting to the call of unity, we all went to the flag stores the next days and got flags for the house and the cars. Somehow that felt right.

We also drove by the Pentagon site. We just needed to see it and feel the reality of it, hard to explain.

For a week or so after the attacks, I was not able to eat or sleep. I kept wondering what would happen next, was I going to see my children rot away with smallpox? Were we all going to die a nasty chemical gas death? I was consumed with worry and couldn't live anywhere near a normal life.

I went to see my doctor, who advised me to turn off the tv. I listened, it helped. But not enough. I needed an event, that would show me, that fate is just that, that we can't control what will happen to us, even if we would desperately like to.

This event unfortunately came with a tornado not too far away in Maryland. The car of two college students was picked up by the tornado and slammed down, killing both girls. Strangely enough, this tragedy snapped me out of my all consuming worries. I realized, that these girls had been just as worried about what would happen next and here their lives ended in a totally unrelated event.

My friend invited me to attend her bible study. I'm not practicing religious, but always very interested in the history of the bible. So I went and for the first reading, one of the verses read: "Who of you, by worrying, added a single hour to his life" (Matthew) I recall that simple sentence anytime I feel the worries taking over. It's quite simply the truth. Whatever happens, we won't be able to change it. So in the past year my main focus has been to enjoy everything I have, the love I enjoy from the kids and Rick, the beauty of nature, the volunteering the schools, the deepening of existing friendships and creating new friendships. All that makes life worth living, no matter what tomorrow brings.

Tonight, I'm remembering those that fell one year ago. I am grateful to them, they showed me just how important the little things in life are. And I hope their families find comfort in the knowledge that so many people all over the country think about them today.
In honor of the remembrance of September 11th, 2001, I'm posting a poem here that Katja wrote last year:

The Things They Did To Me

1 Thing they did to me,
Was make me see,
That the USA is stronger
Than they'll ever be
Another thing they did to me
Was make me see
How horrible and sad
And dangerous and mad
This world can be
I wish I didn't have to know
That people can go
As far as the events of September 11
To send innocent people to heaven
Ok, here I am, freshly 41 ;). I liked 40 much better as a number, but I guess it will have to do. Yesterday, after a strenuous workout, Christine took me out to lunch at Artie's, a fun local restaurant. I have to admit I haven't exactly been watching my diet lately :-O!

Then, when the kids got home, the girls and I had a manicure, Saskia's first ever. And Katja got her nails done red, white and blue with the letters USA on the 3 middle fingers.

I got a lot of phone calls, cards and ecards, so I felt very celebrated. For dinner we went to my favorite restaurant Renaissance Cafe and had a good time with the 5 of us.

Today is the eleventh of September. I slept terribly last night, waking up at 1:30am and not able to get back to sleep :(. So I was supertired. I was worried, even though I didn't want to admit it, that something bad would happen again today. Living so close to DC doesn't make one feel very safe in these instances!

I had purposely signed up to chaperone a field trip for Kai's fifth grade class to go to the International Children's Festival at Wolftrap, the only national park that's devoted to the performing arts in the country. It was a wonderful performance of dancers from China, Korea, Bolivia and Armenia and at the end, the county supervisor and school superintendent led the children in singing "America the Beautiful".

I'm really glad I went! After I got myself a quick lunch at Fresh Fields, Christine came over and we went for a long walk with Brynna, to the dogpark. But when we got there, Brynna was already so exhausted, she just laid down and panted. I guess I need to exercise her more!

As far as the remembrance of September 11, 2001 goes, I have been thinking about how I felt that day, all day. The total fear, the worry for the future, it all kept me from eating and sleeping for at least a week, until my doctor told me to turn the tv's off. I really do think that the media have too much influence on our daily lives. It's hard to get away from them, too. Today I managed fairly well.

This day will never be a normal day for me again, I realized today. Nor will my birthday ever be the celebration it was, there will always be a shadow...

Monday, September 09, 2002

I'm exhausted today and have lots of pain in my leg. The emotions of the weekend probably got to me.

Not a long blog entry today, just a few important things I don't want to forget:

1) I'm turning 41 tomorrow and I always thought I'd hate to be so "old". Truly, despite all the stuff going on with my parents, this is the best time of my life. I'm having fun, I'm loving my family and my friends and genuinely am happy.

2) Today is my anniversary of becoming an American citizen. I swore allegiance to the United States of American on 9/9/99, a fun date, too. I'm proud to be an American!

3) Though September 11th will be a tense day, I should not forget that it's my sister and brother-in-law's third wedding anniversary, their wedding date was 9/11/1999. They are now blessed with a beautiful little boy. So the date does not just stand for ugly deeds, thankfully!