Posted by: Judy | September 11, 2019

September 11

Never forget. Always remember.

Eighteen years ago, I woke at dawn and drove five miles to a property surrounded by subdivisions. If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there. A home with a barn, hay shed, covered stalls, tack room, round pen, arena, and divided pastures. My gray Arabian/Appaloosa gelding thrived in the far pasture, with two mares. He didn’t always act like a gelding, the silly goose. I grained and groomed him, every morning. It was an awesome way to start the day. The other borders came out in the evening, so I always had the place to myself. It was my time to talk to God. After I finished, I’d drop off my work and pick up more dictation, as a medical transcriptionist.

On this day, one of the other borders showed up. Sometimes she came early to exercise some of the horses. I was headed out, and she asked, “Did you hear about the airplane hitting the Twin Towers?”

Did she have a weird sense of humor? I’d had friends who enjoyed pulling your leg. I never liked it because it tested my trust. My trust was on pretty shaky ground. I didn’t like the game. If this was a joke, it was a bad one. Nervous of the punchline, I gave a cautious reply, “No.”

She proceeded to assure me that a plane had hit the Twin Towers. I didn’t believe her, but asked what kind of plane, thinking a small plane gone of course and having trouble. She didn’t know. I was ready to abandon her nonsense and go pick up work. The owner came out and said, “Two planes hit the Twin Towers and one just hit the Pentagon.”

Were these two in on some kind of game to make me look like an idiot? The distress on the owner’s face slowly registered in my brain. She was serious. This wasn’t a joke or a game. Dismay slammed into me. I shut down the careening thoughts because I still had to pick up work.

In my car, I kept the window rolled down. It was hot, but I was hot from taking care of the horse, so what did a little more matter? I turned on the radio. The news blared the same tiny bits of information over and over again. As I drove, I passed other cars with their windows rolled down. I could hear their radios. We were all listening to the same thing. I stopped at the doctor’s office and my mentor’s, dropping off and picking up work.

One of my friends flew for a national carrier. The last I’d heard, he flew several East Coast routes. Not a single report would state which airlines were involved. I guessed that international carriers were used. I felt guilty for hoping my friend wasn’t involved. For the first time, I wished I owned a cellphone.

I arrived home, turned on the television, and called my friend. I expected to reach his cellphone. He picked up. He was alive and grounded on the West Coast. His schedule had changed recently. He was in the airport and just turned on his cellphone and didn’t know what was going on, so I filled him in. I was grateful he was safe and felt guilty.

When they announced the plane going down in Pennsylvania, the reporters kept saying they didn’t know what happened, no one knew what happened. In my heart, I knew.

I left the television on for three days. Never in my life had I felt so connected to the rest of the world. At the same time, I realized how isolated I was. I had no internet because I didn’t want to give anyone that kind of access to my computer. I had few friends, a lot of acquaintances but not many close friends. I realized how short and precious life is. Sam’s Club sold a T-shirt with “I will not live in fear.” I’d been living in fear my whole life. Funnily enough, I’d lived in Yellowstone, Thailand, and England, despite the gnawing fear instilled by years of abuse. I didn’t know how, but I had to change.

I took the blinders off regarding what was happening in the rest of the world… not quite true. I’d lived all over the world and was very aware that if I wanted to know what was happening then I needed to know people there. I’d lost all faith in the media in 1985. They reported “Bloody Monday” in Bangkok. I was there for the military coup that didn’t even last a day. Sadly, two people died, a reporter trying to take a photograph from a flagpole and an innocent bystander, passing by in a taxi. While my brother was in Korea, the media reported the horrible riots between students and police, except it was reported as much worse than it was. My brother reported that the biggest problem was being caught by teargas.

Months later, I learned a cousin had breakfast at “Windows on the World” every morning before starting work, except that morning. He was taking his parents to the airport.

A number of my friends lost family and friends.

Every year, I watch again the news of that day. I read the stories of those involved. I pray for those still suffering. I’ve attended a local 9-11 memorial. I wasn’t in New York City. I didn’t lose anyone I knew. The world changed and so did I. I’d spent my life not looking at the ugliness of the Holocaust. Now, I look at the Holocaust and 9-11. I read books, watch movies and documentaries, listen to the stories, visit sites. I will not turn a blind eye. Pretending evil doesn’t exist or sweeping it under the carpet doesn’t make it go away. Evil comes in many forms, sometimes enticing, sometimes intriguing, sometimes unexpected but too often invited. I pray I have the courage to stand and face it instead of cowering or turning away. God doesn’t require that I fight every evil in the world only what I find in my little corner of the world.


Responses

  1. A very moving post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this sad day. I was at work when the news came about the first plane. Like you, I initially thought a small plane, because many years prior a small plane had accidentally hit the Empire State Building, due to fog. But then the news got worse and worse as the morning went on. It still weighs on my heart. And I am glad that our country continues to remember those who lost their lives that day. 🇺🇸


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