Friday, September 9, 2011

My 9/11

Ten years is a long time. We have moved a few times, had a bad miscarriage, two more children. I've continued my education and have taught at different colleges. Ten years feels like a century ago.

I had two small daughters on that 9/11. They were just 2 and 1 and I was teaching adults (mostly African Muslim) part-time in the evenings. We lived in an apartment attached to our cathedral. We didn't have television, and I was consumed with caring for my two little children. So I didn't know that anything had happened until I got a phone call from the old country at about 4 PM.

Brother-in-law: Where's 'John'?
Me: He's not here. He's in the city.
Brother-in-law: What?! Two planes fell from the sky there!
Me: Really? That's strange...

My brother-in-law proceeded to panic. In his broken English and my bad old-country-language, we understood each other. My husband flew out of NYC on September 10th, and he was in Cleveland ('the city') when my brother-in-law called. So, I turned on the radio (an unbreakable morning ritual now) and listened. I took the girls outside to play and I noticed that there were no planes in the sky. I went to class and there were no students there for the next few days. Some students never returned.

I only have four first cousins in the world and one of them was in the Pentagon when it was attacked. My brother served for a year or so as a lawyer/officer in Baghdad. You would think I would be very patriotic and gung-ho, but I am just left with a sense of emptiness and loss that there is such evil in this world.

so it might be pretty silly, but this gives me hope....

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.


  1. Those last two lines: it's why we get up every day even in the face of a hostile world. There is good in the world and it is worth fighting for.

    I was married just 6 months when 9/11 happened. Living in the Midwest, but having grown up in New Jersey, having spent a TON of time in NYC, the news of that day seemed like a horrible dream. YET, as the day went on, as the reports came from friends and family that though they were SHOULD have been in the towers that day, for one reason or other (a doctors appt, 1st day of school for a child, a golf tournament, a delayed commuter train...), they were not there and they were not lost to us. It was hope. Then to see the people of that city come together, become caring and concerned, to work together to heal, well, that seemed nothing less than miraculous. It was a sign that good does still survive in the midst of a hostile world.

  2. That always gives me hope too! Keep up the good fight!

  3. WOW. I must say, that quote you picked is sooo fitting. I never thought of it that way before. That is the speech that Bush should have given.

    I was a freshman in college. It was the first week of school. It started as a joyous day for me. I was going to morning mass with a new friend. I arrived and everyone look somber. The priest mention something cryptic about what had happened, which I did not follow. My friend walked in at the end and explained what had happened. It was still early. I went back to my dorm told everyone to turn on the radio. It was still early and people were just getting up. The day is such a painful day in our nation's history--in the history of the world. But a day that forces us turn away from evil and let His light shine upon us.

  4. Sam always makes me cry. I know people who don't like LOTR and I always say, "Are you kidding me! Sam and Frodo's story is one of the most uplifting, spiritually powerful stories in the world!"

    I might be a bit partial though. :)

    Here's my story.... about that day.

  5. Really poignant and beautiful. Thanks for this. -F

  6. @Renee--I, too, was in college, but a senior. I'm so happy that if this had to happen, it did while I was surrounded by friends, professors, priests, and just lots of people who cared. If it had been a year later, I would have been on my own in a different big city, not knowing anyone, and probably scared out of my mind.

    @PW--I also didn't lose anyone, or know of anyone who lost anyone close, and it's like, I can't cry or be super sad. It's similar to yours.


thanks for commenting! (comments on old posts are moderated)