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September 11th, 2006

I was two months pregnant with our son and waking up with my usual morning sickness on Sept. 11, 2001. The news report on the radio said one of the towers had been hit. Hockey God and I woke up fast then, and ran downstairs to turn on the TV. The other tower had been hit by the time we got downstairs.

I did what I tend to do in times of distress — I went into denial.

“How are they going to get everyone out?” I asked HG, looking at the burning buildings, thinking of helicopters? They could fly helicopters up to the roof and lift everyone off? (No, they couldn’t.) Then I left the room.

Our daughter was sound asleep — Wacky Girl is, and always has been, a late sleeper. Both kids are this way. No naps, but they’ll sleep until 9 or 10 if you let them.

I climbed back into bed and curled up into a ball. Fear and morning sickness twisted up in me. I tried not to throw up. I hate throwing up. It comes from years of being carsick and trying not to be carsick. I can throw up or not throw up on command, pretty much. So I didn’t throw up.

Then HG came and sat beside me on the bed and said, “The towers collapsed.”

“No, they didn’t,” I said.

“Yes, they did. They both collapsed.”

“Both?” I said, and then the world fell in and I was howling inside. With a new baby growing inside me, and I’m thinking, things have to change. We can’t strike back. We won’t strike back. (Of course we’ll strike back. We’ll bomb the shit out of the fucking terrorists. Because what makes you feel better, when someone you love has been killed? Killing someone else.)

And I’m telling that wicked little voice, shut up. That doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t magically put the towers back up, roll up the carnage, make the dead come back to life. “Thank you, thank you for avenging me.” I am a peacenik, you know this. But I also want to beat the shit out of anyone who fucks with me. It’s a paradox, you know this about me. It is a problem. If my kids ever want to join the military I’ll tell them what my hippie mom told me, “You join the service and I’ll shoot you in the fucking foot.”

Then the Pentagon got hit, and the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, and, “Let’s roll,” and all the phone calls and the distress, panic, love and anger. And calling my girlfriend S in L.A. to make sure her dad, a doctor who lives in Manhattan, was OK. And yes, he’d run his errands early that day, he was fine, he was safe on the upper side of town. And my girlfriend who lives in New Jersey, who had company from out of town, they were going to go into the city that day, but didn’t. And my friend K, a New York girl, who was with S in Los Angeles, all she wanted to do was get home to help.

“I have to get a flight,” she said, “I won’t be able to get a flight home now. I’m thinking I should rent a car and drive.”

I’m going to write this without crying because I need to put aside the anger and the pain, because it shuts me down. It shuts us down. (“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” — Mahatma Gandhi.)

HG left for work. I didn’t want him to go to work, but really, we were both in shock. So like him, I thought, I can try to pretend this is any other day. I have to get to work. So I won’t throw up, so I can grow a healthy baby, and I won’t freak out, so I can take care of my little girl. I went out in the yard. WG was still sleeping. And I started watering the yard. We’re close to the airport, and live in an industrial part of town (trains, ships on the river, lots of traffic and noise) and there was no noise. No planes. And then I howled for real. I stood there in the yard and I sobbed and howled because there were no planes and no traffic and it was too quiet.

I know that everyone says this when they talk about 9/11, but it really was such a beautiful, clear, sunny morning. It was too much, how lovely it was, and how horrible it was.

WG woke up and I cuddled her and cried in her hair.

We didn’t watch TV or listen to the radio. I talked to my husband a few times.

An acquaintance I knew when I was in college, David Johnson, was killed in Iraq. He was a nice guy, you would have liked him. Very easygoing. Wanted to please. He was pretty shy. His family declined to be interviewed by the Army. The governor said, “He did not die in vain.” No, he died because he signed up to be a cook and ended up working as a machine gunner. God rest his soul, and peace to his family and those who loved him.

An Oregon soldier was killed Sunday in Iraq. Richard Henkes, of Boring, Oregon (no joke). He had a little girl who was 5. That’s a little older than WB. May peace be with him and his family, and with everyone else who has died in the U.S. and abroad. Just peace.


  1. Zipdodah says




    September 11th, 2006 | #

  2. Bobbie J Schaefer says

    That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing. My tribute for William T. Dean is posted at http://justonecrazylady.blogspot.com/

    September 11th, 2006 | #

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