I blame the media for my mood today. The rain isn't helping. The TV is all 9-11 this and 9-11 that. I'm not insensitive. I have a lot of sympathy for the people who were directly affected by the events on that day. I have sympathy for everyone who was indirectly affected, which is everybody who, American or not, sat there that day and watched all of it on TV. I just get confused by a message which implies that we need to move on with our lives while we are continuously bombarded with images that never let us forget. I have to move on. I could write a book about what has happened in my life since 2001 - it would be very thick and have some very sad chapters. But I have had to go on and find my own happy ending.
Someday, years from now, Anja is going to come to me after having read about 9-11 in her history book. I am sure that her history teacher will make a big deal about the largest terrorist attack on American soil (said with hopes that there won't be another). I will tell her about my memories from that day. That it started out like any other morning: get up way too early, go to work. I will tell her how I was somehow compelled that morning to lock the car doors for my drive to work, something I had never done and rarely do today. How work was proceeding as usual, all of us rushing around to get some things done before physicians showed up. How my co-worker, Howard, walked in late, as usual, and said that a plane had crashed into one of the towers at the WTC. And how we all wondered how such a horrible accident could happen, that something must have gone terribly wrong with the plane. Then another co-worker, who had been watching TV with our patients, came running in and exclaimed that another plane had hit the other tower. And that's when we knew something was horribly wrong. Then there was the Pentagon, then the plane crash in Pennsylvania. Everyone was glued to the TV, watching images that would be seared in our memories forever. Everyone included our patients, placed in a hospital for psychiatric problems that stemmed from their own traumas. We watched people run for their lives in the streets of New York. We watched as people, hand in hand with a co-worker, jumped to their deaths from high up in the WTC towers. We watched the towers collapse. We were stunned. We were speechless. I went to the gym after work because I didn't know what else to do; there was nobody there. At home, there was nothing on the TV but the images; images that seemed so unreal. The sperm donor and I knew we should stick a movie in the DVD player, but we couldn't. We were stuck.
I will tell her how our lives have changed. How we try not to be a paranoid nation. How we have been educated about elevated security levels. How, as a hospital employee, I was inundated with training about managing large scale disasters and exposures. How we became a nation at war with a leader we are not sure we can trust. How we have become a nation who cannot even take a small tube of toothpaste on an airplane so that we may freshen ourselves up before we meet a loved one who we have not seen in years.
Anja will be five months old tomorrow. I remember she was taken to the newborn nursery shortly after her birth for her little newborn exam, the sperm donor right behind her with camera in hand. I lay on the operating table in an opiate-induced fog, doctors sewing my uterus back together. I remember my doctor saying "Someone call the nursery and find out how much that baby girl weighs." A nurse went to the phone and a few seconds later exclaimed "Nine pounds, eleven ounces!" And I cried. What a big girl. What a big beautiful girl. We have a picture of her on the newborn scale, which clearly reads 9-11.
She is my 9-11. She is the symbol of how I have gone on with my life.