Every year, I tell myself that I’m not going to do it. I am not going to watch the annual 9/11 documentaries. I’m not going to listen to the CD “A Tribute to Heroes” and I’m not going to look through the two books I have commemorating 9/11 full of pictures. And I tell myself that this year I won’t cry. This year, I won’t give into grief. This year I won’t let go and allow myself to remember what that day felt like. But every year, I do.
This morning I pulled out those books and I let myself slowly turn page after page.
The memories of that day and the weeks that followed are still a blur to me. In my mind I see montages of all the things I remember about those weeks. I feel sadness, fear and anger. But mostly sadness. And some joy. I remember the heroism and kindness that this country showed in those weeks following 9/11, and well, I don’t know that I’d ever be able to explain it to someone who wasn’t there to see it.
I remember pictures of burning buildings, missing loved ones and crowds of people covered in chaos. I remember for the first time the simple act of hanging a flag outside of my home caused me to sob uncontrollably. I remember a simple phone message from a cousin in New York, with chaos in the background simply saying that him, and the other family members were OK.
I remember making signs to hang outside my window. I remember FDNY t-shirts, and raising money for firehouses that had been left empty handed. I remember kids in Police and Fire Man costumes all through our neighborhood that Halloween. And I remember it making me cry, again.
I remember driving down Tom Burnett Drive in Pleasanton for the first time, and crying as I looked up at the street sign. Crying for a fallen hero, his widow and their children.
I remember Berkeley full of protesters protesting against an inevitable war. I remember finding comfort in the gun toting Texan that was our fearless leader at the time, only to spend the next 10 years watching our country turn into a volatile politically charged and aching country.
I remember the first anniversary of 9/11 being pregnant with my son. And watching the footage again of that day while caressing my growing stomach. I remember watching TV from my hospital room after giving birth, when we officially declared war.
I remember a more innocent world. I remember a safer world with less hate and more love. I remember a world that was blown away long before my children were even conceived. A world where two strong towers stood tall in the Manhattan skyline.
I remember a Tuesday that started out like any other… or so I thought.
It’ been 10 years. In that time my life has changed a million times over. But when I look at these pictures and let myself remember, my stomach fills with knots and my eyes fill with tears as if it were only yesterday.
Never forget is what they said. Like we ever had a choice.