This is part of the content of a post I wrote for my writing blog several years ago in recognition of 9/11. The reality of what happened in my home just hours before the 9/11 tragedy still shocks me.
My daughter came to me that night around 11:30. She trembled with fear and crying. I struggled up from a slumber that fought back with blissful ignorance, but a mother can’t ignore her child, even if she is twenty-two years old.
I turned on the light. “What’s wrong?
Her unlikely reply made me sigh. “I’m afraid of terrorists.”
“Whatever for?” I fell back against my pillow. “The odds of you coming in contact with one is so little.”
“But I might,” she said, her voice on the edge of hysteria. “What if they ask me if I’m a Christian? If I say yes, they might kill me. I’ve heard that some kill you if you say no.”
I fought exasperation. Every evening, I struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Once I’ve reached the edge that tips me into slumber, interruptions usually ruin the whole night for me.
“I don’t think it’s worth worrying about,” I said, wondering what set her on this train of thought. I had experienced other nights with her like this, nights when a thought ripped into her soul, creating insecurities that multiplied. She sought me at these times, begging for solace. Sometimes, I got frustrated.
It took time, but she finally calmed down and went to bed to sleep in security and confidence.
The next morning, the planes hit the towers.
I waited in trepidation for her to wake up and discover her late-night fears transformed into a new reality.
Yes, the account above really did happen on the eve of 9/11, and it rocks me to the core how my daughter’s mind went there only hours before the tragedy occurred.
It’s amazing to me, still, how much that one morning changed our outlook on life. But we’ve forgotten. Sure, travel became harder, but we grumble about it. For a short while, we turned to God, and churches experienced huge attendance. People extended kindness and looked out for each other. That’s what tragedy does to us.
But eighteen years later, we’ve forgotten except when this date rolls back around. Do we remember that our world is different? There’s an entire generation who wasn’t alive. My grandchildren know about it from things we’ve told them and what the schools teach about the day, but it’s only history to them, I fear.
It’s hard to maintain that heightened awareness from late 2001, I get that. Time numbs the pain. We need that to go on, to survive. I just wonder if we’re too busy to remember how devastating that day truly was. How it changed my daughter’s irrational fear into a very real one? Do we really remember the way we should?