The anniversary of 9/11 probably doesn’t knock the wind out of me like it does for many of you. I don’t know a single person who died that day. I don’t even think I know someone who was devastatingly impacted by what happened that day. If I do, they’ve never mentioned it and that’s a sad story too.
I think if I were to go see the site where it happened, it might knock some sense in me even now. I only say this because I also remember what happened right here in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. On the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing I was having breakfast with my dad at a mom-and-pop diner in Owasso. That was a Wednesday and even now I don’t know what I was doing home that day. It was the middle of the week and I’m guessing I was normally in class at OSU, but for some reason I was home and my dad wasn’t at work and we were having biscuits and gravy and watching Oklahoma fall apart on a grungy small screen with foil-wrapped bunny ears.
I remember both of us not talking that much.
In the days after that I absorbed that news like much of the state, only I didn’t know anyone who died, nor did I know anyone who knew anyone. I got several calls from friends wondering about me and people I know. I was thankful for the concern, but almost felt guilty that my personal life was not impacted by the tragedy.
Earlier this summer I went to the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial for the first time and I remembered with pain in my heart, mind, and eyes. I remembered.
I taught my children to remember too.
The morning of September 11, 2001 was like most of the other mornings of my life with a 2yo, 1yo, and pregnant with a third existence. Most of my mornings from that period of life are a complete blur. I don’t remember right now even why I had our own grungy small screen with foil-wrapped bunny ears television set on. Chances are good I was hunting for Sesame Street. Or maybe Craig called and told me to turn it on. I don’t know. But I did turn it on, and I saw what the rest of you saw and was numb like many of you probably were. And irrationally afraid that maybe NORAD would be a target and darn it if we didn’t live really, really close to Cheyenne Mountain.
I remember watching all day and only being able to think about it because I was alone with my 2yo and 1yo. I remember driving around town by myself after dinner in a complete daze because I needed to get out of the house, get away from the TV, get away from my own reality. I ended up at a large church with a full parking lot. I thought maybe I’d hear something that made that day make sense. I ended up walking in as it was pretty much over and so I found a corner, I knelt, I cried, I prayed.
I drove back home and life went on. Ten years’ worth of life, in fact.
Because I didn’t know anyone involved and because I am physically distant from the location of the devastation, I’ve also become emotionally distant. I don’t know that that’s wrong, but once again, I’m feeling just a bit guilty that my personal life was not impacted by the tragedy.
I don’t want to be paralyzed by a grief that on a personal level isn’t mine to own, but I don’t want to be numb to a grief that is America’s to bear together as a nation.
And so I take this moment in time to pause. To pray. To remember. Life will continue to go on, it always does.
But for now, I remember.