September 11, 2001 changed my life in many ways, but not in the same way most people will reflect and say it changed theirs. It didn’t change the way I feel about national security, it didn’t make me a more patriotic citizen, and it didn’t make me think about why this bad thing had happened to this great country.
The reality is it changed my life for the better. And that fact, the fact that what was such a devastating tragedy for so many made my life better, is difficult for me to come to terms with.
I have basically lived my whole life in Lodi, arriving here when I was six, taking a break for college and early adulthood. It was a surprise to end up back here at age 31, pregnant with our third child. Transplants from the Bay Area, we had sold a house for a ridiculous amount of money, and we were headed to Sacramento for a job change for my husband. I left him here in Lodi, by himself, while I finished a job in the Bay Area. My conservative husband fell in love, and Lodi was where we stayed and settled down.
My whole life in Lodi had been under the radar, quiet, not easily recognized. I was the girl who didn’t show up in snapshots in the yearbook, just that one posed picture from picture day. I was an attorney’s daughter, and then later, my brother the bartender’s sister. No real identity of my own. September 11th would happen not long after our move here, bringing with it my newest supporting identity…the woman whose husband survived the 9/11 tragedy.
On that day, while a nation sat by TV’s in shocked silence, while people came to terms with the loss of loved ones, while the world began to mourn the losses…I was relieved, I was rewarded, I fell to the ground in gratitude upon hearing my husband’s voice on the other end of the phone. I would spend less than an hour thinking he was dead, and then the next ten years grateful for his survival.
There have been years when the actual day of September 11th has not bothered me. I have gone to work, taken the children to practices, paid bills, run errands and lived life like any other day. Often times, I end the current September 11th with my husband watching the footage from 2001. Many years the footage is new to me, as though I have not seen it before. The reality is… I probably haven’t. Because while the world watched their TV sets that day and into the next week, I did not. That week in 2001, I returned phone calls, talked to family, friends and business associates. I answered the door to reporters who had tracked us down. I waited for Corey to call when he could get through on phone lines, and later I made the travel arrangements that brought him home to us that next Sunday, the 16th.
There have also been years when half way through the day I want to curl up in the fetal position and cry. This year is ten years. The babies of 9/11 will turn ten. This is always the hardest for me to see on news specials or read about in magazines. Our daughter Paige will turn ten in November. She loves her father, she knows her father, and she is blessed to have him in her life. It is difficult for me to see the children, just like her, who never knew their father. We went on to have a fourth child in 2004. We have four girls. People assume we were trying for a boy I am sure. I wasn’t. Our last girl is our 9/11 baby. Proof that hope springs eternal, and in the end what is important is family, love, and the eternity that awaits us all.
In 2003, we went back to “ground zero”. The trip to New York that Corey had always promised me, made difficult by the fact that it seemed shallow and wrong to look forward to the things I had once dreamed of…the shopping, Broadway shows, a taping of Regis and Kelly. When people ask me about that day, and our place in history, the word that most often comes to mind is surreal. Standing at ground zero, surrounded by quiet whispers in a city of noise, surreal seemed more fitting than it ever had. To retrace his steps and listen to him talk of the events and the day, to listen to both the small and big things that he remembered, it all just seemed surreal. We went on to enjoy the trip…the shopping, the Broadway Shows, all of it, because in the end New York had survived, and that is how it survived and thrived, by people loving New York and all that it stood for.
On Sunday, September 11, 2011 our family will be at our church. We will be grateful. We will remember what is important. I will struggle to balance the guilt and celebration of the day. The guilt for all that I have because he survived, and the celebration for all that I have because he survived.
I wrote a piece for the paper on the one year anniversary. I ended it with this quote,
“Sept. 11th took so much away from our Country. God willing, I will cherish all that it gave me for a very long time.”
It is nine years later…I am still cherishing.
A quote from Corey, my husband: “Never forget September 11th. Never forget those months that followed. Months filled with nationalism, patriotism, volunteerism, bipartisanship, God’s love, giving and unity that galvanized us as one nation. Those qualities are still in each and every one of us today.”
Sunday, June 19, 2011
This is how my day started not too long ago. My youngest and I were in the car and she said, “I had the weirdest dream last night.” She is 6, the youngest of four sisters, and is known to have a bit of a dark side. So I thought I was prepared when I said, “Oh really? What was it about?” She responded with something like this…and I will not be exaggerating or taking creative license, however you will think that I am, “I was married to Brandon…you remember Brandon my love from kindergarten, but I was cheating on him with Austin. That was fine, but one day I went to dinner with Austin…and here’s where it gets awkward…Brandon my husband was there. When Austin went to the bathroom my husband came over to ask what was going on, and I told him…oh him? He’s my boss.” I will stop the dream retell there, although in all honesty I am nowhere near done and what you just heard was practically verbatim. I am not often speechless, but here it was the one moment in time when I found I had NOTHING to say in response.
A few hours later we were with Naomi (who currently lives with me, but that is a story or stories for another day) and I asked my little darling about the dream. She repeated it again with the same details. To her credit Naomi didn’t bat an eye and told her that it sounded like a very interesting dream, she then turned to me and said, “We need to do something with that one…there is talent there. Do you think she is a clairvoyant?”
This isn’t my first trip to the rodeo with this gal. She has a personality all unto her own, and I worry because she is number four and let’s be honest…how much energy will we have left to raise this one with any kind of high standard? Mary was in first grade this year. She is bright, but I am not going to lie, I didn’t actually know this because, again, she is number four and I let some things slip through the cracks. I have never done homework with her. Naomi did it in Kindergarten and in first grade she went to the after school program where lovely supportive after school teachers helped her. At report card time we always have a 4 in homework (that’s an A if you don’t live in liberal California where we don’t want anyone to KNOW they are failing…how’s that working out for us?). So it was strange, or just Mary’s bad luck, that one day in February out of the blue I said to her, “Mary let me check your homework?” When she handed it to me that Friday morning (homework is due on Friday) I realized that there was a page not finished. I said something to her, and she said, “Oh, I forgot.” I said, “Uh, no…you didn’t forget, it is February and we have been in school 7 months and you know what is expected of you, you didn’t FORGET you chose not to do it.” The end result was that she did it very quickly, turned it in on time and I told her this was NOT to happen again. And with my first three children the lesson would have been learned and this would NOT have happened again. And I thought that was exactly what would happen in this circumstance. Hah!
The next week on Friday morning I said to her again, “Hey Mary let me check your homework?” The reply was, “Oh, that.” It turns out this time NONE of it was done. I asked her what her plan was when she got to class and she said, once again, “Well, I forgot.” And I patiently laid out for her, for the second time, that she did NOT forget. This was February, we had been doing homework for seven months, and every day at after school program they announce “WHO HAS HOMEWORK?” You didn’t forget, you chose not to do it. She just stood there. Finally I said, “Do you want me to write a note?” Relief swept over her body and she said, “Yes, that would be great!”
So I wrote:
Dear Mrs. Weybret,
Mary chose not to do her homework this week. Please make sure she has whatever consequence is needed.
Mary read it over my shoulder and then screamed, “WAIT! This is a BAD note.” Certainly THIS was the end of our homework issues.
Because hadn’t I made myself crystal clear?
The next week I am in the cafeteria after school. This is where the after school program children gather. Miss Maria, a lovely woman who has helped all my children with their homework and gets that there is a certain level of capability within them and they are teacher’s kids, approaches me and asks, “Is Mary smart in the first grade at math and things?” I was stumped. Oh Jesus, I don’t actually know Mary’s math capabilities. My mind starts racing…no one has said anything to me. Is she behind? When was the last time I saw her DO her math? She used to write her numbers backwards. Damn it! Why hadn’t I been paying better attention? What I say uncertainly is, “I don’t know, I think she can keep up.” Miss Maria says, “What about the reading? She can’t read?” Wait a second, slow down, we can read…she just read the note with the word consequence in it last week…no she can read. I say, “Why?” Miss Maria says, “Well, today I read all of her homework to her because she said she couldn’t read. Then I went to find her teacher. She was gone, but the other first grade teacher laughed and said…Mary can read just fine.” Hmmm? So it turns out our homework issue is not resolved. Shocking!
At this point Mary enters and I motion her over. When questioned she replies, “I meant I was tired, very tired it is Valentines Day there was a lot going on and I didn’t FEEL like reading all the homework.” A less then pleasant response follows from me, (picture steam coming out of my ears) followed by daily visits to the cafeteria where I stand next to the person who shouts out, “Homework time…Who has homework?” and glare at Mary. She would then grab her homework and stomp over to the homework table, one time muttering, “Really? We have to do this every week? It is so boring.” I am certain this will not be the semi-quiet end to this story.
First grade has ended and summer has begun. Swim team has started. Because I have some experience under my belt, and because people can change…instead of being my typical intense, crazy, psycho bitch, I have heart and say to Mary, who may not be the most skilled swimmer, “Let’s just do the practices. You don’t have to do the meets until you feel more comfortable.” (If you have read my third daughter’s swim story, you know this is huge progress for me in terms of relaxing and going with your child’s strengths) She agrees and on the first day we head to practice. It is unfortunate that sunny California is under a blanket of rain and clouds during our first week of swim team, but I push on (yeah, yeah, so much for my relaxed go with the flow garbage I just fed you). I get her in the pool…she throws her goggles at me and yells, “NO!.” It isn’t like we are alone. The same thing is happening with the kid next to us. Herein lies the difference…the kid next us has a mother who says something like this for the rest of the week, “Come on baby…just one lap and then we will put on your jeans and we can cuddle with the blanket I brought. I will meet you at the end of the pool.” I say, “We are here all summer and you will be in the pool all summer. You can swim or sit there and cry, but I am working out during this time.”
I’m not going to make any judgments or tell you who has the better mothering skills…but guess whose kid is in the pool swimming and guess who still has to cuddle after each lap?
Posted by kim at 7:17 PM