In August of 2001, I gave birth to my youngest son. This, in and of itself, isn't remarkable to most (other than perhaps those associated with him) however since the doctors had advised that giving birth would likely kill me, I was jubilant to prove them wrong.
When my birthday rolled around a few weeks later, I was beyond triumphant. This was the birthday I wasn't supposed to see.
I woke up and was giving the kids a munchy grazing variety breakfast. (Ash was newborn, Princess four and Deej only 2.) The sun was shining and it was warm enough that my sliding glass door in the living room stood open to allow the breeze to flow through my house uninterrupted. The grass outside looked so green, that day, especially against the nearly unbroken jewel bright blue of the sky. It was a beautiful fall day, here in north east Ohio.
Rugrats blasted from my tv. I remember this because when my phone rang just before nine, I told my mom as much.
"Good morning!" I chirped.
"Are you watching TV?"
Since I was expecting a 'happy birthday!' I frowned and glanced at Tommy Pickles and his friends on the tv. "Yes," I answered.
"Turn on the news." I remember feeling no little irritation. I didn't want to watch whatever my mom found important on the news. It would make the kids upset to turn off their cartoons.
"What channel?" I grumbled.
Her words sent a strange chill through me. I flicked through the channels in time to watch the second plane hit. I remember crying. I remember the feel of the carpet under my hands when I crumpled.
That whole day was full of terror. At first, I thought to take the kids and head to friends in Canada. No one knew what was happening, if there would be more attacks.
I packed them into the car and stopped at my mom's on my way to run... And found they had closed the border.
Trapped, I spent a day mostly at Ashton's grandmothers house... She was waiting for news from Ash's grandfather who was in NY. We later found out he was okay. He was on a bridge, stuck in traffic. Other than his vehicle being covered with ash, he remained unscathed.
I remember driving back across town and seeing long lines at the gas stations and that Domino's had closed early (which didn't happen.)
I remember being scared. Feeling inadequate to protect my kids...Looking at a sky that had no trails of planes in it at sunset and thinking, "What kind of world would my children inherit? Would it be like the one I had lived in or had everything changed?"
I forgot, for most of the day, that it was my birthday. So did everyone else.
One friend remembered. He came late in the night with a six pack of Mike's hard lemonade. I thought it was a gift... He thought it was the only way he would ensure that I would sleep (I was pretty wound up.) He slept on one couch, I on another, in my living room and the last things I remember from that day was the sound of the news playing on the tv.
It was the birthday I thought I would never live to see. And it is the birthday I will never forget.
To those who lost loved ones on that sunshiney September day... I am so sorry. Words aren't enough to express what you went through and go through everyday because of your loss. May you find some peace, even if only a little, in knowing that a nation grieves with you.