On September 11, 2001 I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my first, and so far, only child. I lived and worked in Westchester County at the time, just a 45 minute train ride from Manhattan. Even though I personally didn’t loose anyone from my circle of family and friends that day, I still can’t watch any of the TV specials or read anything about that day, because I just start crying.
I remember thinking, someday this baby will be a little boy, and he’ll ask me what happened this day. I remember watching the news, checking in with friends,family and neighbors. I rememeber trying to explain what was going on to my then 10 and 11 year old sisters while my mom and dad were standing by at our volunteer ambulance corps, looking for a way to help. And that’s when I realized what I wanted to take away from this terrible tragedy.
Of course I remember the pain and shock of that day. I still cry over the injustice of it. I remember the helplessness as I assisted the my co-workers at the community hospital where I worked prepare for hundreds of injured people who never came. But I also remember something else.
I remember picking up the phone and calling friends I hadn’t spoken to in months. I remember my neighbor, who hadn’t ever said more than “Good Morning” to me in two years, knocking on my door to see if I needed anything. In those next few days when the world seemed to halt and thousands of people’s lives were on hold, people seemed to move more slowly, take more notice of each other, and speak more kindly. There wasn’t much more to do but show a little kndness. Sure, we donated batteries and dry socks and water, but in the end there was nothing to do but hold our families a little closer and grieve together.
And we did just that. It started, I think, because we didn’t know who was waiting for news of a loved one. It continued, however, in the days that followed 9/11 because suddenly it didn’t matter if you were a doctor or a bus driver, Democrat or Republican, Yankees fan or Mets fan, it only mattered that you were a fellow American. People picked up and returned that five dollor bill you dropped, drivers stopped to let pedestrians cross the street, and neighbors brought in each others garbage cans. I remember thosed things. I remember reconnecting with family,friends, and neighbors. And I will tell my son about that on every September 11th. And I will tell him that is why, even though he thinks its embarassing, I never let him or his father leave the house without a kiss goodbye and an “I love you”, even its just to go to the store.