Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looking back

It's been 10 years.
September 11th.

Just about everyone has a story of where they were, what they were doing, and what they remember about September 11th, 2001. I'm no different.

This day is filled with a million mixed feelings for me.
First, I was a newlywed. Tim & I had just gotten married on June 30th, 2001. I knew about this military life I had just married into. I knew about the dangers, the stress & the uncertainty it brings. I also knew about the huge amounts of pride that came with it.
This day tested all of that.

We lived in a rental home right outside of the Fort Bragg, NC main gates. Not anything like home, and not a town I wanted to be in.

My oldest child, "JT", was only 8.5mo old that morning. A wee baby.
We got up early to start our day. An absolute beautiful blue sky morning.
I remember putting JT in his highchair to start breakfast around 6am. Usually, I would turn on the radio, or TV for background noise, but that morning I didn't as I didn't want distractions... we had to be somewhere...

I fed baby J, and soon after, we loaded up in the car & headed on base. We went to the doctor, stopped at the commissary, then came home. But before coming home, I noticed a lot more cars around base. A lot more traffic, but thought nothing of it.

Coming home, JT was asleep in his carseat, so I took him in, and put him down for a nap.
Phone was ringing... off. the. hook.
I honestly thought to myself 'geeze! Can I put the boy down first!! stop calling!!' This was before we invested in an answering maching...
Little did I know it was just about every family member making sure we were safe.

I finally reached the phone, and answered all cheery-like
'ya, mom. it's me.'
'Tara, turn on the tv.'
'err. OK. Gonna have to give me a minute mom. got groceries in the car.'
when mom says my name like that, she pretty much means business.

'mom, what's going on?'
'baby, I don't know. *sniffling*..'
'MOM, what's going on? What happened? WHY are you crying? mom?'
'Tara, this isn't an accident'

... a few minutes pass ...

'baby, I dont know!!! Where is JT? Where is Tim?'
'uhhmm. I ..I-- um, JT is in bed. Uhmm, Tim is at wor--TIM. I gotta call him. mom, I have to go.'
'Tara, call me back in 5 minutes.'
'uhhm. ok.. yea, I'll-- um, ok.'

panic dialing.
hands shaking.
busy tone.

I swear I did this for what felt like 3 years.

.....dead silence....

my phone rings.
'HELLO?! TIM!! TIM!!!'
'Tara, its mom. Did you talk to him?'
*crying hysterically* 'no, mom! I don't know where he is! What do I do mom?! I'm so scared mom. Where is he?'
'Honey, I dont know. I want you guys home'
'I can't leave mom! I can't leave without him knowing!!'
'I know. Stay calm.'
'mom, let me hang up. In case he tries to call.'
'ok. I love you!'
'**crying** i love you too, mom. I love you too.'

frantic calling..
'this number is unavailable'
'WHAT?! WHAT!!! no... no-no-no!!!'

*watching tv*
It was all a blur.
I just remember fire. planes. tv talking, but no words. buildings on fire.
... and no communication from my husband.

*phone rings*
my thoughts were 'geeze mom, ugh!'
'oh my GOD! TIM!!! Tim are you ok?! Tim! What's going on? *sobbing*'
'Tara, listen to me, I am fine. I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere. I need you to listen. Bad things are happening right now.'
'I know! Are we under attack?'
'I dont know. I just know that we've been told terrorists.'
'Tara, where is JT?'
'He's napping. Saw the Doc today, he was tired...'
'OK. I need you to STAY PUT. I know first reaction is to leave, but you being on the road is NOT a good idea right now.'
'ok. just stay here? til when? are you coming home?'
'no, baby. we're on lockdown. I have to go, babe. Lines are jammed up & they give us 3 min to call home.'
'okay. Tim, I love you.'
'I love you too, Tara. I'll call when I know mor----'

lines cut off & tears started falling.
baby starts fussing.

After everyone called, and I gave all the info I possibly could, I realized it was after 9pm.
Somehow, throughout the day, I managed to feed the baby, change the baby, answer the phone, make calls, and stay in touch with family.

I remember at one point I went outside, after JT had gone to bed, to get away from the TV, and the stagnant inside air.

The first night was a long night.
I was so scared to be alone... I was scared I wouldn't be able to see Tim that night. I needed to hold him, I needed to talk to him.
I NEEDED to say that even though it seemed as if the world was falling down around us, we had a bit of a silver lining ...

September 11, 2001 I found out I was pregnant with our second child...

I had a million mixed emotions that day. That morning I was STOKED about being pregnant again. I prayed it would be a girl!!!
...then reality set in.
My God.
How selfish could we be?!
America was under attack, possibly AT WAR, and we were wanting to bring another child in this? Into the military life?! What if I lost Tim? I would be a single, widowed, mom of 2!!

what have we done?

But wait. We're in the land of the free. We're in AMERICA! We can over-come this!!! We're strong, we're not gonna BACK DOWN!!!!
This new life growing, that WE created was a tiny glimmer of hope of a better life. Better days... this child HAD to be. Meant to be.

... and that SHE was.
Miss Emily was born in May of 2002. Our sunshine through the darkness of 9/11.

...My story is a little thought for everyone to remember that even though in the moment, things seem like they'll never be the same; they'll never be good again. But that's not true.
well, not all true.
Things were never the same again. a LOT of good came from that dreadful day. Security tightened. The American PRIDE was shown through & through on every street, there was a gentle calm & compassion for your neighbor. Lending a hand wasnt so much a burden anymore.
...and we over-came our fear by welcoming a new life & a new start.

So, when all seems lost, and things seem like a personal HELL, it's really not. Sometimes we must tread through the dark dreary jungle to get to the sunshine, and start things anew.

For all of those lost, all of those left behind... your memory is eternal. *I* personally will never, EVER forget. I don't want to forget.
United we stand... and we'll NEVER fall.

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