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Life is not about getting to the destination, life is what happens to you on the way there. 

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Blogging for books entry: September 11th

Below is my entry in the blogging for books challenge. I almost didn't enter this because I didn't know what to write. After I got home from work today, the significance of the day struck me and I suddenly had my topic. Read and comment. Tell me what you like and what I can improve on. Mostly though, thanks for reading.


Superheroes can be defined as someone who is self-sacrificing for the common good. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. On September 11th, 2001, I heard the story of someone I consider to be a superhero. I didn't know this person. I don't even know his name, yet this person changed my life, and the lives of countless others.

Do you remember where you were at 9am on September 11th?

I know exactly where I was. The kids had just been dropped off at school and I was at the urologist. Actually, I was in the parking lot of the urologist. I had a 9am appointment. I was running a little bit late, but the doctor was always late so I didn't worry too badly about it. I had nearly lost my kidney about six weeks or so prior and at that time I had in me what is called a kidney stint. It was nothing more than a black rubber type of straw inserted between my kidney and my bladder. There were little kinks at either end to keep it from sliding out. Because of these kinks, it sometimes pinched me on the inside. I had been walking around with this pinching inside of me for what felt like ages and on September 11th it was scheduled to be removed. I was very pleased about the idea of no more pinching and was thinking about remembering to get a doctor's note. The radio was playing my favorite song: Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion". Before I turned off the car, I waited to hear the end of the song because it was almost over.

Then the announcer came on, and started saying one of the worst things I have ever heard in my life. It ranked right up there just below "Hon? I'm sorry... daddy passed on last night".

The radio announcer used words like plane, skyscraper, New York City, explosion. At first I was shocked. Something like that happening in MY country? No way. We are safe. We just don't DO things like that here. That happens in other countries, not in ours. Then I was mad. This is the radio guys idea of a prank. They are always doing pranks like this. I really needed to call and complain to the station manager about this because it wasn't funny. I was on the verge of turning off the car and heading up to my appointment when something in his voice made me leave the car idling for a moment longer. After a second, I realized that he was near tears. MY radio personality guy? Near TEARS? He then patched into the live feed coming from someone broadcasting in New Jersey.

That's when I think it started to hit me.

After listening for a while, I numbly turned off the car and proceded up to the third floor doctor's office to get my pinchy stint removed. The doctor was in the middle of removing it when a nurse rushed in and whispered to the doctor. He paused and asked her to bring in a radio. While he finished removing my stint, we both listened in growing horror to the story that was coming in over the radio.

This was MY country. These were MY countrymen.

At work, later, there weren't many phone calls coming in so we mostly rotated around the TV in the break room. Four or five of us would watch for 20 minutes or so, then we'd go back to our desks and stay glued to cnn.com until it was our turn at the TV again. I refreshed the CNN website so often that I actually saw the front page being built.

The rest of that day is nothing more than a series of mental snapshots in my memory.

I watched the live footage of the second plane crashing. I saw people leaping from the burning building to their deaths before the media grew a heart and stopped showing it. I called DH at home and we discussed taking the kids out of school. Some of my co-workers went home because of the fear and stress. The company ordered pizza for the rest of us still working. Someone brought in an enormous flag and hung it from the rafters (we had offices in an old remodeled warehouse). Someone else bought little handheld flags from the dollar store while on break and everyone taped them to our computer monitors.

I still have my flag.

Later that night, DH and I sat at home watching the news, trying to comfort our children that nobody was going to blow them up. We downplayed the event to our children, and some might criticize us for that, however, they were 9, 7 and 3 at the time. For them, all they needed to know was that mommy and daddy loved them and sometimes bad things happen. We silently thanked God that it hadn't happened to our family and loved ones.

After the kids went to sleep, I peeked in on them and watched them breathing. What I remembered the most about that day was the news story I had heard about flight 93. A father was flying home to his wife with their infant child when flight 93 was hijacked. He called his wife on his cell phone and left her a voicemail message. He said that someone was going to watch their baby while he attempted to retake the plane with a couple other passengers. He loved her very much. He had heard about the Pentagon and somethign about New York city. He did NOT want his flight to be used like that. If he was going down, he was going to go down fighting.

As I watched my kids that night, I think I cried a little. This story struck me the hardest of all because this father came to a conclusion that I don't know that I could have come to if I was in his shoes. He decided that the news reports were correct. How long did he have to think about this, really? Five minutes? Ten? I had doubted the news reports, and even after a half hour I was still doubting them. He entrusted his son to a strangers care. I NEVER put my children in the care of someone I do not know. He confronted men with guns. I have a hard time confronting the phone company about an overcharge.

He sacrificed not only his life but that of his infant son. As a parent, I have to say that it must have been an extremely difficult decision. Pre-911 we were always taught to give hijackers what they want. He chose not to. He had a job, a wife, a new baby, and he understood the stakes. He freely gave his life so that others might not die. This man was the true definition of a superhero. He was just an ordinary man, doing an extraordinary thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You brought back a lot of memories. A sad time to think about and one that will never be forgotten. (Didn't hear about the guy with the baby before.) It was a wake up call for America. So wasn't the Hurricane in the south. Love you, MOM

9/11/2005 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Cate said...

Like your mom, I hadn't heard that story before either. So touching.

Karry, you write like it's something you were born to do. It's good you are finding out what wonderful things you can do while you've still got years left to enjoy your talents.

9/11/2005 11:00:00 PM  

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