It was an early morning and as usual, Super Mom was driving me to work. We only had one car at the time and if there was one thing we could rely on it was that our car was unreliable. As young parents with four young sons, a mortgage and mounting financial obligations we were pretty tired and getting more exhausted and overwhelmed each day. At the time we felt as if life was filled with one tragedy, trial or heartache with another one on deck ready to take yet another swing at us. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when you’re a young parent feeling the pressures of everyday life and we were no different. Every day was just another day.
That morning was a little different though, for us and the rest of the world. On that morning, Tuesday, September 11th 2001, Super Mom and I had just wished one another a happy anniversary when over the radio our favorite morning deejay informed us that a plane had just flown into one of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers. Radio deejay’s are known for their comedy and this guy was no different so we brushed off his announcement as the set up for another joke.
We continued our drive in silence wondering at this strange joke and where it was leading when just a few minutes later the deejay informed us that it had been confirmed – a plane had flown into the north tower of the WTC. Moments later another jet flew into the south tower and suddenly our early morning drive was blanketed with a stunned silence and an overwhelming feeling of fear and uncertainty.
Reluctantly I hopped out of the car, kissed my wife goodbye wondering if I should just get back in and head back with her to the comfort and security of our little home. Instead, I sauntered into work. It was early enough that the dozens of people who shared that office space were still an hour away from joining me and a handful of early risers who came to work before the sane people arrived.
In a fog I asked a few of my co-workers if they were aware that planes had flown into the WTC towers. As a group we made a beeline for the break room and the television. Channel after channel was covering the event as two more airplane hijacking’s were reported at the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, PA.
The day went from overwhelming to bizarre to absolutely depressing and discouraging. All I wanted to do was go home and be with my family. I didn’t care whether or not I lost my job. I didn’t care where we were going to celebrate our anniversary or what we were going to do. Frankly, the only thing on my mind was making sure that my family was safe.
Eventually my employer allowed us all to go home and I started walking because I didn’t want my wife and sons to be out and about while there was still a possibility that terrorist attacks could hit anywhere around the country. One of my co-workers picked me up and drove me home. For hours we sat in front of the television, glued to the news, terrified by the implications of what this meant to us and wondered about the future of our country, our family and our way of life.
Suddenly, our problems were insignificant. Dirty diapers and dishes, medical bills, groceries and all else took a back seat to my loved ones and the relationships that were far more important than the nine-to-five and everything in between. That day exposed and emboldened our nation. That day changed us in many ways as people and as a family.
I wish I could say that it made me a better man but that would be a lie. I want to say that it scared me into being a better husband and father but again, that would be a lie. The bills didn’t stop neither did the problems or the struggles or the hardships. But what I can say is that it gave me pause. That day will always live in my memory as the day that I truly realized that life can change in an instant and that we should live our lives as if it is our last day on earth.
Every year now on September 11th we are reminded of two things: 1) That our marriage is something that we work at every day of our lives even though we love each other more than life and 2) life is fragile and no one knows that better than those who lost their loved ones on the day that Super Mom and I pledged our love for one another in marriage. God bless them and all of us on this tragically historical day.
I love you Jen!