On 9/11, I was in California. By the time my alarm went off, the first tower had already collapsed. I heard at most ninety seconds of radio news before my five-year-old said, “What’s a terrorist? What happened?” and I shut the radio off.
For most people, the next few days were non-stop televised tragedy. For me, it was the completely surreal attempt to shield my boy from the entire thing. My most vivid memory is of watching his kindergarten class play on the playground while adults stole away to listen to radio reports in the school director’s office as furtively as if we were shooting up in the bathroom.
I asked him yesterday what he remembered. He thought about it then slowly shook his head. “Nothing. Not from when it happened. I remember a ceremony, some kind of memorial service, but I think that was later.” Success!
I didn’t realize this at the time, but by shielding him, I shielded me, too. It was years before I saw and heard the sights and sounds of that day. I wish I had done the same this weekend. I know that whether or not I put up the Christmas tree has nothing to do with anything that’s happening in CT, but it feels so wrong.
Ironically, on Thursday, I was really happy. I’m working on a very fun secret project (not to be secret for long!), and I got my hot water heater fixed. It’s been semi-broken for months, which is not that big a deal in Florida, really–cold showers are not usually a problem when it’s 80 degrees–but oh, it was fun to have hot water again. I think I shall pretend to go backward in time to Thursday and work on being happy about hot water and being entertained by my secret project. Wouldn’t it be nice if time could rewind like that?
Yes, it definitely would. Except I might spend too much time rewinding and too little time living in the moment.