Saturday, September 12, 2009

We Got Your Back

NOTE: I went to update my blog today and I found this post that I wrote on 9-11. I guess I saved it and forgot to post it. But I am posting it now, because it really helped me to write it and to let it all out. So here it is almost a month late...
I was spurred to write about my own 9-11 experience after reading the blog of a friend of mine who lived in New York City on that fateful day. 9-11 is not something I really enjoy talking about. I don't like to share my feelings about it, they are too painful. I experienced no loss on that day. Everyone I loved was safe. And yet it stands out as one of the most profound days of my life.

My husband joined the Air Force a year earlier in May of 2000. We were excited for the new adventure. By August of 2001, he had finished flight training and was headed off to survival school in Washington State. Our lease was up and we knew we would be headed far away so I decided to visit his parents in Utah with the girls while he was gone. I missed him but knowing he would be home after 3 weeks was not a big deal. Little did we know that once we were together again, life would never be the same.

On the morning of September 11th, I was at my in laws house alone with the girls (they had left for 3 days to go to Portland on a business trip). I was awakened by a phone call from my mother telling me to turn on the news...I did was was aghast at what I saw ...the constant rewind of a plane hitting the World Trade Center...then another...then the Pentagon...then a plane crash in Pennsylvania. The airports were closed, phone connections became sporadic and then I was alone. My girls were little enough to be non-plussed but old enough to sense something was wrong. I tried not to be worried about the new situation in the world, but I was terrified. My husband was survival school...relatively unused muscle in Washington. Would they send his flight to NYC to help? I didn't know. I couldn't reach him. I waited for him to call. He never did.

I tried to be brave. I only watched the TV when the kids were gone. I only talked to my mom with hushed tones. My in laws were stuck in Portland trying to rent a car to drive home. My husband's sister-in-law lived about 40 miles away, but I was scared to be away from the phone just in case John called. I didn't want to miss hearing his voice. Knowing that the miles might have kept us apart but his voice could bring us right back together. I waited.

Eventually I headed to Camille's house where thankfully she saw I was exhausted and let me sleep on the couch while she corralled the kids. I will be grateful for that. But it wasn't the same. I wasn't with MY people; my mom, dad, sister, husband. I needed to be enshrouded with their love and support.

Eventually people got home, four days later my husband called. I was able to finally get a flight back to Texas and embrace my loved ones.

Things haven't been the same for me post 9-11. And unfortunately my children will never know what the world was like pre 9-11. They will not know what it is like to suspect fly without fear. They do not know a world without their Daddy off fighting the "bad guys." I still can not watch footage of that terrible day without being taken right back there and feeling all of those same feelings of worry and uncertainty.

On the other hand, we all know that our citizenship in this great country is a blessing and a gift. And we are lucky. They know that their father loves his country so much that he is willing to lay his life down to protect their freedoms and the freedoms of every other American. They know that we have rights and privileges in this country that must be protected at all costs; they have become active in learning and understanding the meaning of being an American.

The thing that I carry away from 9-11 is the loss of the innocence of my children. Never did I think that I would have to explain the idea of terrorism, death on such a grand scale for no apparent reason and the absence of a father who was now trying to right the situation. I have had to hold my children while they cried trying to explain why their best friend's daddy isn't coming home, (while inside being so grateful that MY husband was coming home). So people gave in their own ways. My hope is that as a nation we never forget what brought us to this place we are now and try our hardest to never take a step backwards.

I can't help but think of our first flight after 9-11, back home to Texas. It was just me and my daughters. Katie was wearing this cute little camouflaged outfit that she bought with her Grandma. She proudly walked onto the plane walked up to the cockpit and shook the hand of the pilot and said, "Thank you for being brave and flying again. My daddy flies too and he will be protecting you today." With tears in his eyes the pilot said "If he's got my back then we'll be fine."

America, we got your back. And on this day, I am proud to say that I understand what it means to be an American more than I did 8 years ago.

1 comment:

Patsy said...

Wow! I'm glad you wrote that. It's something we all have to deal with and it's always good to look back and remember our feelings, and keep them close to our hearts.
You are awesome.