Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 - Looking Back on the Day That Changed Everything

Since everyone else is doing it . . . here I go with what I remember about 9/11/01.

I was on my computer, ordering beads. The woman I ordered from sent me an email right after I submitted my order. All it said was, "Are you watching TV?"

I found that to be an odd question. I never watch television during the day, but because she asked, I thought I should turn it on. As I headed toward the living room, the phone rang. I answered to find that it was a friend of ours from Germany. JD immediately asked the same question my bead lady had.

"Are you watching TV?"

So I walked into the living room, sad down on the coffee table facing the television, and turned it on. The first thing I saw as I flipped to CNN was the second plane hitting the tower. Live. As it happened. I don't remember saying anything more to JD. I don't remember if I hung up or if he did. After a while, my bead lady (whose name I cannot remember for some reason) called me. We had never spoke on the phone before, only communicating via email. But that day we talked on the phone and watched CNN together for over two hours.

At some point I called my husband, Mike, at work. We had just moved from North Dakota to North Carolina about six weeks earlier, so he had only been a part of this squadron for a short time. Prior to moving there, Mike had been in Korea for a year. So we were enjoying something of a "honeymoon period" after spending a year apart. But I knew by the tone of his voice as he got on the phone that day that the honeymoon was over. He had his Captain Hat on as he spoke, telling me that yes, he knew what had happened, and no, he didn't know how that would affect him or his new job.

I went to the school down the street to pick my children up at the end of the school day. None of the parents waiting outside the school spoke much as we waited for the final bell to ring. As my children - Mackenzie, age 7 and Keeghan, age 5 - came out, all I wanted to do was hold them tight. They both knew something had happened because they saw their teachers crying. I think I tried to explain as best I could what had happened, trying not to scare them too much. 

Mike didn't get home until late that evening, and then he was home only to eat and change into a clean uniform as he had night shift in the command post that night due to the new, heightened alert status the whole country was at. I know we talked a little that night, but I don't remember what about. As earlier, his Captain Hat was on and he was thinking of nothing but the job at hand.

Life changed drastically in the days and weeks that followed. Fear was a constant. Mike deployed a month after the attack. The kids and I were, once again, on our own. That was the first of what has now been 5 deployments for Mike. All because of the events of that one day, 12 years ago.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I find myself very angry and annoyed lately.  I didn’t really think it was all that noticeable though, at least not until a good friend asked me yesterday why I was so grumpy.  I should be feeling better, right?  August is over.  I made it through the 5-year anniversary of Keeghan’s death and it is finally, gloriously, September.

Enter Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, stage left.

At first I thought it was very ironic that Keeghan died on the eve of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, almost as if he was saying, “Keep on fighting Mama.”  It was fitting.  But now?  It’s like back-to-back hell months.  I just about get through my own personal hell and now I am inundated with everyone else’s hell story, and honestly, I’m just not in the mood for it this year.

That sounds pretty shallow, doesn’t it?  I’m not in the mood.  As if any of those other people sharing their story were in the mood for what happened to them.  But there really is no other way to put it.  My head isn’t in the right place.  For the ones telling their story about how their child was diagnosed with cancer, went through treatment, and is now alive but with side effects from chemo . . . well, good for you.  Your child is ALIVE.  Yes, with definite sucktastic deficits to deal with because of the harshness of chemo, radiation, or both.  But alive.

My anger over this is a little off the chart this year.  I recognize that it is wrong.  I recognize that it isn’t fair to my friends whose children have survived to feel this way.  I recognize that I am being selfish.  It doesn’t change my resentment though.  Of my closest friends in the childhood cancer world, I am the only one whose child is dead.  I don’t wish for any of them to join me in that fact, but sometimes it is tough being the only one.

So yeah . . . I guess I am grumpy.  Right or wrong, I’ll own up to it.  I won’t apologize though.