10 years ago today I was just getting settled in at my first day of work after returning from my honey moon.
I got a call from a patient who was crying and said she couldn't come in because there had been a plane accident. This sounds horrible, but to be honest, I had heard some interesting excuses for canceling appointments at the last minute and trying to avoid the cancellation fee, and I really thought this was another one. But then more calls came in, and they came in faster, and everyone said get to a tv, something awful is happening. Most of the events are a blur for me, but I know that the doctor I worked with hooked up a tv and in between taking calls I saw the towers fall. One of the things I remember most from that morning was the rumors were flying thick and fast. There was a brief period of time where we all thought the first plane had been an accident. But when the second one hit and it started to be obvious it was more than that, everyone who called into my office was saying that they'd heard that this city or that city was a target. Especially after the Pentagon was hit and the airplane went down in Pennsylvania. I also remember being extremely worried about my friend who was attending Columbia University (the only person I knew in New York at the time), but also being afraid to call her parents because I didn't want to know if she wasn't ok. And most of all I remember watching the news for hours and hours into the early morning of the 12th, watching the planes hit and the towers fall and things burning and people jumping over and over and over. I felt like even though I didn't lose anyone I knew personally that day, that it was just such an awful event that all I could do for anybody was to suffer to some degree along with them. And I did suffer.
So no, I'll won't ever forget.
I always wondered how I would tell my children about this day. We avoided talking to them about death for as long as we could get away with, and we've always talked about it in pretty pleasant terms. We believe in a heaven, and we teach our girls that they will see people who die again someday. We tell them that we are sad when people die because we will miss them until we see them again, not because something bad has happened to them. But we always talk about people dying from old age, sickness or accidents, it's only very recently that we've introduced to them the possibility that one person could hurt another person badly enough that they die. In other words, we talk about death, but we don't talk about murder.
This morning I was watching the 10th anniversary coverage when the girls came out of their rooms. Lilli came out first and asked me what I was watching. I still didn't know what to say, so I told her that some bad men made some buildings fall down and a lot of people died, and we think about them on this day and we remember why it is important to love everyone in the world, and not hate people who are different from us. She was very interested in the memorial, so we were still watching when Elizabeth came out. She asked what we were doing, and I started to tell her my (admittedly sanitized) spiel, and she said "Oh! 9/11! I know all about that, we watched a movie about it at school!" I was taken aback. At the same time I want to teach my children about this, I wasn't quite ready for her to actually see any of the images that are so vividly implanted in my head. So I'm still digesting the fact that someone else took care of telling her about this. She clearly didn't really understand. All the kids made cards for the NYC Police and Firemen, and hers said "Thank you for keeping us safe!" And she drew a picture of a plane hitting a skyscraper. So. There's that.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this post. I just want it known that I haven't forgotten and I won't forget. And eventually I'll figure out how to tell my children and make sure they don't forget either.