On September 11, my shift started at 6:00 a.m., which was 10:00 on the east coast. I remember hearing news on the radio and being very confused. Is this a joke? A drill? What's going on? I got to work and, of course, everything was grounded. We listened to the radio, waiting. Fearing. Asking how this could be. Tracking our own flights, ensuring that all of Seattle-bound planes had landed okay.
I called Jason. "Honey, sorry to wake you up so early. First of all, be sure and let Beth out this morning; I didn't have time. Also, you might want to turn on the t.v. It looks like our country is under attack." To this day, he gives me grief about my news-breaking prioritization skills. But if I had told him about the attacks first, he would've totally forgotten about Beth! And then who would've come home to a soiled carpet? Me.
It's weird how when tragedy strikes, whether or not it directly affects you, you HAVE to go on with things. You might wish for the world to stop so you can soak everything in and figure it out, but the dog needs let out and you still need groceries. After work, which was much earlier in the day than usual since no planes were flying, I stopped by Carrs grocery on Huffman Street. I watched people walking in the parking lot and thought, "What can we do? Look at us. We're all still walking into the grocery store. Are we lice?" There was a definite quietness to the crowd though, a heightened sense of being, longer pauses looking into each others' eyes. We knew this to be a forever-altering kind of day, even before we knew what in the world was going on or who was involved.
* * * *
On this September 11, my day began with the chickens. Zoralee on my back, I was standing in the yard with the hose, filling their water bin, when Dad came onto the porch and told me Aunt Sue had just passed away. Great Aunt Sue, one of our national treasures, a wellspring of stories about growing up as a sturdy farm hand in Illinois and going to New York City as a young lady. Great Aunt Sue, strong as an ox, they always said, and gorgeous. Ate nuts and berries and raw foods, drank loads of water, and took a dollop of whiskey in her coffee every morning. She'd gargle salt water and shoot it out her nose because it "cleans you out good." 96 years old. She seemed like the person who'd finally break the curse and live forever. But she didn't.
Beyond Dad on the porch, I saw the American flag waving. Oh yeah, September 11th. Nobody can see the flag from there except the two households across the meadow. Irrelevant. We can see. We remember. We honor all who lost their very lives that day eight years ago. We think of what it must've been like to be on those flights knowing something wasn't right. We thank the ones who rushed in to be of help, to be of service, to give direction and impart calm to people fleeing down smokey staircases. What were their last words? Last thoughts? We wonder. We remember. And we grieve.
Mom and Dad took off then to the courthouse. They're standing with a man we know who has been accused of a crime that he maintains his total innocence over. If a jury of his peers agrees, okay. If not, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
In the evening, we went to eat Chinese food for Grandpa's birthday. September 11th in my family has always been Grandpa's birthday, until 8 years ago when it also became the day the towers fell. While eating, Heather told us about our friend's troubles during these, her last weeks of pregnancy. Visits to the hospital, talk of inducing early, bedrest, threats that losing the baby is possible if they don't get her blood pressure under control.
Birthdays. Chickens. War. Airplanes. Trials. Chinese food. Pregnancy. Death.
What we all could use...is a little mercy now.