I am pregnant with Youngest. I am only "just" pregnant. But I am pregnant nonetheless. We are at my mom's in early September because Eldest won't start kindergarten for another year, so we are availing ourselves with cheap airfare and near-empty airports and flights. Bethany Beach is still wonderful. There is that ocean I barely remember, having lived nearly all of my adult life on the other coast.
Le Daughter remains enigma. Eldest dresses in his latest get-up: Tarzan. We all relish in the joy of little kids racing waves, "helping" Dada build castles and rollicking with nary a care in the world.
One morning, I am using Mom's blow dryer when she storms through the bathroom, flinging open the door and saying, "Come see."
I do. And then I do not. I do not see. I block all images from my mind. Pete remains at Mom's house, eyes glued to the screen. Mom and I take the kids to the boardwalk, fleeing reality, fleeing images that will surely fill me with rage and despair.
I choose not to watch. But that rage? That despair? I carry it within me through my pregnancy. When, years later, Youngest goes to kindergarten and 1st grade and 2nd grade and everyone is appalled at the number of horrid kids in his grade, I posit my theory: all of their mothers, carrying those little ones within at the time of 9-11, are filled with that despair. And that rage.
And we transfer it into those forming within us.
Can it really have been 14 years ago? I listen to Springsteen's "The Rising," and I remember the telethon right after. I remember Petty's "We Won't Back Down" (or whatever the hell it's called). I remember giving money to help the fallen.
I watch almost none of the coverage. I call the managing editor at The Chronicle and I tell him of my utter fear of boarding a plane back home in the midst of all that. And he tells me something that makes me board that plane after four hours waiting in line. A period of time where I shred an American Airlines employee for encouraging the passenger in front of us to stick his knife deep down so he can get by security. "Could you at least see his knife before telling him how to smuggle it onto a plane?" I don't say, "How many fuckin' colleagues do you have to lose to terrorists before you wake the fuck up?" But I think it.
And I think it again when that passenger, knife secured in his checked luggage, ends up seated in front of me on the flight "home."
And I think many things in the following months, probably forever dooming Youngest and his ilk to despair and rage, as they raise the terror alert so I will only bring one child with me each day and leave one with Pete so, you know, at least someone survives.
There is a PSA of sorts running that shows one year in the life of a little girl, borne into middle class security and thrust into civil war over the following months. We didn't come to that point. There's nothing saying we won't ever. But we didn't. But many others did.
I'm writing this in the security of my home, with no fear. Yes, 14 years later, with "The Rising" soundtrack playing in the background on my brand new smartphone, I have no fear. I have stupid fears of children growing up and leaving me, mind you, but I have no fear of the unspeakable touching me in the here-and-now.
I have no ending to this post. Save this: come on, rise up, come on, rise up, come on, rise up, come on, rise up. Come on, rise up. Come on, rise up.
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