After I put the girls to sleep last night, I walked into our bedroom where Dan was watching television. He had on a program on History Channel about the World Trade Centers falling- all shot by amateur videographers. The show was raw, haunting footage of the day. There was no narration and little background music, just a running clock telling you when the footage was shot and where it was ... two blocks east of the Towers, one mile south, three blocks west. It was mesmerizing: I stood in front of the screen at least ten minutes, just watching, transfixed.
When I am watching footage of the day, I am filled with an overwhelming urge to have someone pick up some of the pieces of paper that were everywhere on the ground and read them. What did all the papers say? Did they have names? Account numbers? Balances of investment accounts? Are those papers meaningful? Mundane? One of a kind? For how long will people say, We had that information but it was lost in the Trade Center? All that information spread all over the street and no one gives it a second thought. I think it shows how disconnected I am, watching from my living room, to think about such matters when horror is all around.
I was lucky to be two degrees separated from the event: I did not know anyone who died, but knew many people who knew people who had died.
One of the most harrowing scenes of the program was when the first Tower fell and the huge, engulfing cloud of debris arose. Someone had filmed a profile view of hundreds of people running away from the cloud and the cloud, moving, swirling, seemingly alive, full of bits of pulverized metal and concrete and plastic and people, chasing after them. All I could think of was, I am seeing Death itself.
I thought back to that day seven years ago and remember the so many details: I was pregnant with Michaela, due on the 23rd of September; it was the Tuesday of my last week of work before my maternity leave started; my boss at the time had died in her sleep three days earlier over the weekend and my department was reeling from this sudden, unexplained loss; I was wearing a green maternity top and tan pants... the top had a matching pair of pants that I had grown out of months ago; Dan called me at about 9:10am to ask if I had seen any television that morning and when I answered no, he told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center and I remember profoundly callously asking him, Oh, did it fall down? in sort of an offhand tone because at that point I had enough on my plate to worry about and just was not able to take on more tragedy.
I had my swollen feet up in my department head's office, listening to the radio when the towers fell.
We went to church that night to pray.
We met Michael Strauss, our Mikey, the first of the fabulous Strauss Boys Three, born two weeks earlier, for the first time that night. Such joy tempered with such grief.
We invaded Afghanistan on the day I gave birth to Michaela. CNN was on in my Labor and Delivery room, video clips of Osama bin Laden playing over and over again, until a nurse briskly said, That's enough of THAT and turned it off.
I always thought that the day was especially meaningful to me because I was just about to bring a life into the world and I honestly was not sure that my child would live in the same world and enjoy the same freedom that I grew up in. I mourned extra hard for the pregnant widows of the traders would died, imagining their joy and sorrow all mushed together in a messy bundle as their fatherless babies were born. I could not imagine facing caring for an infant and raising a child without my husband.
But now, seven years later, it is all softer now. It turns out Michaela and Jenna, too, are living the same way I am. I am starting to tell Michaela about what happened that day and she is sad about it.
Life is going on.