On 9/11/2001 I was pregnant with my daughter and was due in less than four weeks. I was in the last stretch and found myself anxious and stressed out. I decided to take a mental health day that day. I thought I would spend time that morning setting up my daughter’s bedroom. I unpacked gifts received at my showers. I laundered her clothes, organized her closet, set up a diaper changing area and unwrapped toys. I sat in her room, feeling blessed at what we were given. I was in awe that her birth was right around the corner. Feeling accomplished, I took a break from my preparations.
I sat down and turned on the television. The news was on, and there was the image of a hole in the one of the trade center towers, smoke rolling out of the side of the building. The headline read “Plane hits World Trade Center”. I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing. I immediately thought how odd that was. Even if there was a plane in the vicinity (which was odd in and of itself), HOW could it have NOT missed the WTC? Could someone have done this on purpose? It didn’t make sense. As I was watching the live footage, mulling over the different possibilities while struggling to make sense of what I was watching- the second plane hit. Oh my God. I was in shock at what I was witnessing. Disbelief, confusion, horror. This WAS intentional.
I called my mother crying, “Mom…. the world trade center. Planes hit. Both of them……” Knowing my current place mentality, my mother in all sincerity said, “Oh, I was hoping you wouldn’t see that.” She tried to reassure me that firefighters were going to help. They were going to put out the fire. I kept telling her, “No. They won’t. They can’t. It’s not possible. The floors above the fire- they will die. All of the people on the floors that were hit- they are dead.”
I called my dad. “We are under attack.” I called my husband. “Get home NOW.” I called work. “Turn on the TV.” Then came footage of the Pentagon. WHAT IS HAPPENING? Then the field in Pennsylvania. HOW MANY MORE? Footage of people in New York City. Fear and bewilderment on their faces. People were voluntarily jumping from the towers to their death. Then the tower fell. I simply can not explain the emotions that ran through me at that moment. I just sat on my couch in my living room, holding my enormous belly and sobbing. As I felt my daughter kick, I could not comprehend what was occurring and further, I had no idea what kind of world I was bringing her in to.
Following the attack, there was a bonding in this country I had never seen before. Then again, most of us had never experienced something like this. Many of us thought, “This just doesn’t happen HERE. To US.” We as a country were wounded. We were hurt, grieving. We were heartbroken. We were fearful. We were angry. We were unified by the trauma. We donated blood, we made eye contact, we spoke to strangers, we supported charities, we flew our flag on our cars and homes, we signed up for military service and most importantly- we were kind to one another. 9/11 changed our lives and our country in countless ways. We would never be the same.
I gave birth to my daughter on October 4, 2001. I brought her into a world that is uncertain. Scary. Destructive. It is also a world that is loving. Kind. Hopeful. A world where we work through, overcome and get better. We heal. A world where in the midst of our greatest darkness, we have a daily choice of being the light.