When terrorists crashed into the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, my 4-year-old daughter was in the living room glued to a kid show on TV.
I was in the kitchen listening to talk radio as I did the last of the dishes before packing her off to her first day of pre-school, and myself to work.
“Mummy!’’ she called brightly. “It’s a plane!”
“Nice!” I cheerfully replied, as I stuffed pots and pans back into a cabinet under the counter.
The radio in the background was part of the soundtrack of my life. The stories I wrote for an upstate New York newspaper were often fodder for the morning news show and I was listening for whatever it was I had written that day.
The host’s tone suddenly changed though, and he sputtered something excitedly, like, “Did you see that plane?” … Then an incredulous pause. “Is this live?” he asked. “I think this is live!”
I raced out to the living room once I realized a news feed had obviously cut in, and swept my daughter from the room. I wanted to minimize the horror even though I knew it would be all we’d see and hear for a long time.
In that moment, of course, all our lives changed. We bore the unbearable grief of being attacked at home, resulting in a mass vulnerability we hadn’t felt before. My sister near Manhattan lost dozens of friends who had commuted to the towers for work. A boy I knew in grammar school, then a man in his 40s, was on the 100th-plus floor of one of them and was lost, as well.
So, now it’s 10 years, and the country is a very different place. We are mobilizing to gather again on Sunday to remember the events of 9/11 and the lives lost.
Yesterday was another milestone for my daughter, this time her first day of high school. I’m grateful that what she remembers about that terrible day so long ago now is limited to a little girl’s excitement about going somewhere new.
We all know that nothing is the same post-9/11. Nor will it ever be. But the blessing for me is that in all that carnage, a little bit of innocence was preserved.