It was 6:30 in the morning here on the West Coast and I was driving to work.
I stopped at the coffee stand I frequent for a vanilla latte (grande, of course), and the gal at the window told me that a helicopter had hit a building in New York.
At first, I didn't think much of it. She seemed confused by what she had heard, and crazy things happen all the time, right?
When I got to the office, people were a bit frazzled. They kept talking about the helicopter, or was it a private plane, or was it a news helicopter or... what was it?
And then we heard.
We heard the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane in New York City.
And life as we know it, as I know it, changed.
On September 11, 2001, I had just recently celebrated my first wedding anniversary to my firefighter hubby. We had started dating 5 years prior when we were just about 20, and for the first few years, we didn't know what we wanted to be when we "grew up". At first, Steve was having fun working on the ski patrol at Mt Bachelor on his snowboard. We talked about moving to Boulder Colorado so he could get on a mountain there and I could finish with school, career path undertermined.
Steve had some experience fighting wildfires with hot shot crews in the summertime, and realized that line of work appealed to him, so changed plans and found focus, spending the next few years of our dating life getting his dual paramedic / fire science degrees. After living at the Sunriver Firestation as a student for a few years, he was eventually lucky enough to be hired there, and that was where he was working on that weekday in September, 2001.
I eventually left work that morning in a bit of shock. There was just no way I could focus on health insurance when something like this was happening.
September 11 changed all of us, but it really changed me. It changed the way I think about firefighters, in particular. Being a firefighter was no longer "cool" as people often think. It was never about the flashy truck for Steve, it has always been about service to his community and helping others, but the reality of where the pretty fire trucks will go became real to me on that day. On September 11 I came face to face with what it really means to be a serviceman to your community. I hadn't really thought about what his career path meant before then.
There's a huge part of me that feels guilty about how happy I was that we were on the other end of the country. Steve is a Boy Scout. He believes in helping others. If we were in New York, I know he would have been in one of those buildings. I just know it. While the rest of the city was running out, there is a community of brothers that will run IN. It is their job. It is their way of life. And he is one of them.
September 11 scared me in many ways.
10 years later, I remember it like yesterday. 10 years later, I know I will never forget. 10 years later, I have two little girls that weren't here on that fateful day, and it's my job to tell them what I remember.
I had the TV on non-stop watching footage and hoping that out of the piles of rubble, more people would be found. As time went on it was a desparate feeling. I really wanted all of those rescue workers to find someone. Maybe just one person. Something. But they rarely did.
That was a huge day in our history, and I think about it all the time. But I kiss Steve goodbye every 5 days, and then watch for him to come home 2 days later. And I'll keep doing that for the rest of his career, because we need people like him in our world and in our communities. When we need help, I know he'll be there, just like 343 of his brothers in NYC who rushed to help when all instincts were to flee.
So hug your kids. Get out the camera and get in a photo with them while you are at it. And grab your hubby too before football comes on or the lawn needs mowed or you need a gallon of milk from the store. If anything, this day is a reminder of how precious and fragile our lives are. Davinie