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A Day That Will Live in Infamy

As is only appropriate on a day such as this, I think I ought to take a moment and remember. I hold my baby in my lap as I type and feel his warm little body against mine and am amazed that it has been seven years. I wasn't even a mother yet.

I was the pregnant wife of a college student, I was the pregnant wife of a soldier as well. September 11th had a profound effect (affect? I always forget) on our lives. Like many of you, if not all, I can recite exactly what happened that morning as if it was yesterday... probably better.

I had gotten up late, around 10 AM, because I was just so worn out from not being able to turn over, or lay on my belly anymore. My first child lay heavy in my belly and I didn't have to go to work that day. But I finally shuffled down the stairs and began my morning routine when the phone rang. It was my brother in law, York, and I cheerfully answered.

"Good morning."

"So, have they activated Robert yet?"

"What?"

"Has the Army called him in yet?"

I hesitated, confused. "No, he had drill last weekend."

"Have you turned on your TV today?"

"I just woke up actually. Why?"

"Because America's under attack."

Now I need to note that my brother in law has a very interesting sense of humor, the guy convinced us once that the best movie he'd ever seen was The Talented Mr. Ripley, which is a horrid movie, and when he found out we'd seen it on his recommendation he laughed so hard we felt like punching him. So when he said turn on the TV, America's under attack, I immediately got suspicious.

It took some coaxing on his part to get me to turn it on and then a little more for me to believe that anything had happened beyond a plane accidentally hitting one of the World Trade Center's.

"No!" he says sincerely, "there's more than one, keep watching."

So there I was, phone in hand, standing in front of the television as the Today Show replayed what had happened moments before. York was talking in my ear but I hardly know what or even when the conversation ended, all I remember is clutching my massive belly and wondering 'what am I bringing this little one into.' If I could have held her in my arms at that moment I would have circled myself protectively around her and never let go. I knew, unlike many families, that the events of that day would change our lives forever.

As a soldier, I knew my husband would not escape this crime unaffected and therefore neither would I. I sat, for the rest of the day, glued to the television, and did so for many days afterward.

At work, I helped so many stranded travelers to find a place to stay (I worked in a hotel). We had one couple from England that was stuck in our hotel for a month. People were trying to rent cars to get to their destinations, only to learn they weren't old enough (you have to be 25 usually) or that all the cars were gone. Every hotel in Phoenix was full, many were giving their rooms out for free. Faxes were coming in from the major companies, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotels.com, almost constantly giving us instructions for their customers. Everyone was aware I was 8 months pregnant, my coworkers all knew Robert was in the National Guard.

No call came that first day for him to report in, nor did it come the next day or the next week. In fact, due to many extraordinary circumstances, Robert was not called to serve his duty until 2004, when the second wave went into Iraq. But those days, those years, were some of the most difficult for me.

I didn't know anyone who was in the Towers, the Pentagon or on the plane that went down, yet my life, like so many others, changed because of that day. The first steps he ever saw were those of third child, last year. He missed scarlet fever (yes both of my older ones have had it), and a flooded house. He missed first words, birthdays, and anniversaries. In the 8 years of marriage (on Sept. 23) Robert has been gone probably for three of those years and it has not left us unscathed.

So have I forgotten that day so long ago, as my baby sits here curled so safely in my lap? No, it's one of those things you just don't think about because it causes to much pain. Last night as we lay in bed I said to him;

"I can't believe it's been 7 years."

I don't think I will feel less surprised when we lie in our bed someday saying; "I can't believe it's been 30 years... it seems like yesterday."

Comments

Kiri Levie said…
You have a gift for writing. I can't believe it's been so long either, and we won't ever forget. Thank Robert for his service, and know that we thank you too!

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