Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five Years Ago

On September 11, 2001, I woke up early to take a pregnancy test. Dear Husband had already left for the day. The test was positive. I had to get DramaQueen dressed and to daycare and drive to work, where there would be a company-wide meeting. Usually I turned on NPR and listened while I drove, but today I wanted to think about being pregnant. I missed my mom, who had died in June, and wished she could know about the new baby. I wondered how DramaQueen would react. I wondered how we would manage it financially. My thoughts wandered along these lines as I drove to daycare. I got DramaQueen out, and hauled out all her stuff for the day. And then I opened the door. This was an inhome daycare. The woman who ran it was talking loudly on the phone, her eyes riveted on the TV. It took a few moments before I understood what I was seeing. And as we watched, the second plane hit.

I left. I couldn't think to do anything but continue to work. I phoned Dear Husband from the driveway. As I drove to work, I started crying, and screaming. I wondered if all the other people in the lanes next to me were also listening to the radio. Why were we driving around as if this were any ordinary day?

At work we all crowded into a small conference room with a TV. No one was working. The company-wide meeting was called off. The CEO was on the phone, trying to find out the fate of friends in New York. We were all eventually sent home, to sit in front of the TV for the rest of the day.

How, I thought, can I bring a child into this? From then on I felt uneasy about being pregnant. The meeting had been rescheduled for that Thursday. It turned out to be an announcement of impending layoffs. I was ravenously hungry at lunch. Then I went home and threw up. Thus began unrelenting morning sickness. Thus began months of uncertainty--would I be kept on? Yes. Then, the company declared bankruptcy, and I knew I would be out of a job before I gave birth in May. I still felt miserable. Firecracker kicked a lot. It hurt. It felt wrong, but the doctors brushed it off. We went to Las Vegas and I was so tired walking through the shops. I found a sale at Baby Gap. What is this? I ased a salesperson. It's so small. It's for a preemie, she said. At least I don't have to worry about that, I thought. Yes, I actually thought that. Then one day at work, I began spotting and cramping. Two days later I gave birth at 26 weeks, in a room crowded with doctors and nurses from the NICU.

How many people, I wonder, oriented their lives around 9/11, however distant geographically. Everything in my life shifted and settled askew, all the small personal matters seemed connected in some way to that horror. No one I knew in New York worked there; no one I knew was injured. But I had lived there. That the Towers could be gone--something so integral to the skyline--I'm not sure I could go there and see that gap, and think of all the gaps, the missing mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons.


  1. Thank you for this personal reflection on that day. I was touched reading it.

  2. Very touching. I can only imagine that when you look at your child you see many things. Your child brings hope in our so daunting world.

  3. Thanks for sharing Alice. It's so interesting to read what different people were going through on that fateful day. So happy to hear that Firecracker is doing better. (smile)
    Peace to you and yours.

  4. Was a sad day. Thanks for sharing you experiance...

  5. What an absolutely horrific day! I remember, I was on the picket line( I hate unions by the way) As cars came through the line, the drivers gave us updates as to what had happened to the world trade centers in New York. All of us were in shock. Soon our union captian called off the strike and told us to all go home. When I got home I turned on the T.V. and cried in horror, shock and sadness as I watched. Even though I am a Canadian, I have relatives living in the States. In fact my cousins husband was due to be at the trade center on that dreadful morning at that specific time. He happened to be late for his meeting. Because he was late his life was spared. I just couln't believe what I saw. I was in shock as was the rest of the world. Still don't understand it.

  6. I had a friend who was IN LABOR all day on 9/11. She said it was absolutely surreal. (Her son was born on 9/12, though)

  7. my friend's first born was born on 9/11 in the USA - and it was my other friend's 40th ....

    but Karen, this was none the less a beautiful post. Thank you for letting us in and see your daughter's birth through tearstained eyes. She's beautiful and so are you!

  8. In some ways my life is punctuated by this and similar disasters. First was the assination of John Kennedy, then Martin and Bobby. Bobby was gunned down while I was in Vietnam wondering if I would be next. The next horror in my life didn't come until much later with the Challenger accident. I had watched and cheered Krista for all her hard work and the wonderful work she would do when she returned to the classroom. Then the Columbia in '03. None of these affected me like 9/11.