Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Experience: the First Step in a Decade of Change

I wasn't sure if I was going to write this post or not.  There are many around me who didn't want to watch any of the programs about 9/11 today.  I understand that we all deal with this great tragedy in our own way.  I also think for many in our country this is a national tragedy but not a personal one.  It shouldn't be about me; however, this is a very personal event and it had a tremendous impact on my life.

Ten years ago today, I lost my innocence and began a journey of loss of, and rediscovery of, safety and security.   My story is inconsequential in comparison to those you have seen on TV.  The recounts of bravery, compassion, and human sacrifice is overwhelming and impossible to describe.  Perhaps I am being selfish in writing this blog, but my way of coping and understanding is to examine my experiences and feelings.  That is why I did watch TV today; that is why I am writing this blog.

I was at work when I heard about the first plane crash into the World Trade Center Tower.  I immediately called my husband, Don, who was at home.  I asked him to try to get a call through to my brother who worked in New York City.  While he worked in an office overlooking Central Park, I still needed assurance that he was okay.  I also needed to know if my parents were safe.  They had been visiting my brother and were due to fly home to Arizona that day.  I didn't think that they were on that plane, but I needed to know for sure.  Don was fortunate that he was able to get a phone call through; we were relieved to find that everyone was safe.  My brother certainly has stories to tell about his struggle to get home to New Jersey that day.  Since flights were grounded for a period of time, my parents had an extended visit with my brother and his wife.  In retrospect, this was truly a gift of time.

I went on a business trip to Washington, D. C. the end of October and took some personal time to travel to visit my brother.  I took the train and went to their home.  Our parents had returned home by then.  I asked my brother to take me into the city for the day.  I wanted to experience New York as a New Yorker does- not as a tourist-and he could show me that.  I also wanted to visit the 9/11 site.

Security was tight.  In the subway station, there were armed soldiers.  We were only able to get within a couple of blocks of the 9/11 site, but it was an experience that I will never forget.

Dust and debris everywhere; abandoned stores with footprints in the dust ...

 steel twisted beyond understanding...

                                                                       police in masks.


I'm glad that I went there. It was a sad journey that I needed to make in order to process what had happened.  I think it also was an important step in my journey.

It wasn't long after this journey that my mother broke her hip while on a trip in Australia.  My brother flew to be with our parents and spent many hours with our father.  We were so focused on our mother's recovery when she returned home that it was a shock when our father died of a massive heart attack the end of February.  During this past decade, I've lost both of my parents.  My symbols of safety and security are gone.   I've struggled with work, I've had cancer (thankfully caught early), I've gotten older.

In taking this opportunity to look back over this decade, I can see the positive changes in my life.  In fact, I can count many.

  • My first step occurred on September 12, 2002; I was baptized.  While I have always been a very spiritual person, I had always been embarrassed and felt incomplete because my parents had never baptized me.  I found the courage to approach my pastor and asked for a private baptism.  I didn't want to do it during a church service in front of the congregation like they do with all of the babies.  This was a very personal step in professing my faith.  I just wanted my family there.   My pastor was very encouraging and assured me that this was a very special event for her to baptize an adult.   I will be eternally grateful that she understood and granted my wishes.
  • My children have grown into lovely young men in spite of all of the time I spent at work.  They were always a priority for me and there were times when I didn't think I had the energy to give them what they needed; but we made it!  
  • My work was demanding but challenging.  There were many times that I made personal connections with people that I have cherished.  I am grateful for these experiences and that I now can enjoy retirement.
  • I now have a lovely daughter-in-law and an adorable granddaughter.  At times I am sad that my parents aren't here to see them, but they are a joy to me.
  • My dear husband found some loving friends for us.  They have enriched our lives and offer support, laughter, and joy every day.
You can see that finding joy is a common theme in the good things from the last decade, because it was during this last decade that I realized that I didn't have much joy in my life.  I made it a daily goal to find joy.  I continue this journey today and hope to do so for the rest of my life.  What about you?

Have you found your joy today?


  1. God bless you Ava. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. I was delighted to see you and Don on Saturday. Thank you for being a friend and a great hugger! We experience great sorrow only because we loved so much. You are truly blessed. oxox

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  4. So much has happened in 10 years. And I love you more than ever. Thanks for writing this. I hadn't thought about all these things in quite a while.

    I actually was at Target going through the almost desserted check out line early on a weekday morning, when I noticed people in the TV department watching something. I went over to talk to them and see what was so interesting.

    One plane had hit one tower, the second had not yet. Both towers were still standing, one with some smoke coming out of it People were still wondering if it was just a small plane that had somehow accidentally hit the tower.

    I was able to get though on to your brother's cell phone because it was still early in the whole thing. People were still trying to figure out just what was happening and not many were making calls yet. Later it was impossible to get through. I was lucky.

    Thanks for helping me take the time to remember what we did that day, and the things that have happened in the 10 years since.

    Love you!