Indelible images, that everyone everywhere, recognises instantly. An event so shocking, it immediately joined the “Where were you when….” ranks.
So where was I? September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday, and because we are down under, it was night time. I recall I was sitting upstairs with the Firstborn watching one of our favourite shows at the time, Rove. An Australian late night light entertainment show. We were having a very relaxed evening, bathing in a general feeling of contentment and lightheartedness.
As we were laughing along to the antics, a headline began to scroll across the screen, as it does when breaking news happens. “A COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT HAS STRUCK THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE IN NEW YORK CITY – FULL REPORT IN THE LATE NEWS.”
Flicking over to CNN, the mood in the room had immediately jumped to high alert. Both of us had sat forward on the sofa, I called to the PracticeHubby to come and watch with us. (The Genius was only 8 and was already asleep.) We sat as a family and watched the coverage with our mouths open, hearts racing, wondering what it all meant. Due to the wonders of modern day communication, we sat mute and stone like as the second plane flew straight into the south tower. The commentators were hysterical, “there’s a second plane, it’s also going to hit” it seemed like everyone was screaming. At least that’s what it felt like in my head.
I don’t remember when I went to bed that night, but I remember holding my child’s hand as she sobbed when people started jumping out of windows. Certainly it was real time horror, I’ve certainly not seen anything quite like it since.
In the cold analysis of this event, things were obviously not exactly as they seemed. There are questions and theories and conspiracies galore, and one could even question whether the magnitude of impact this event had worldwide perhaps was disproportional to the amount of life lost. I’m not saying it was nothing, but in the light of things like the Boxing Day Tsunami 2004, where over 230,000 people lost their lives; or the Japanese earthquake in 2011 with a death toll over 21,000, then 2,996 fatalities total on 9/11 seems like a much smaller thing.
Then why each year, do I find myself pondering whether those events, that one horror filled night, actually had a more profound effect on my life than it would initially seem possible?
See, less than 12 months after those events, I committed, arguably, an act of terrorism on my own life as completely devastating as crashing a plane into a skyscraper. I can’t help but think that the events of that night triggered a chain reaction of emotions and thoughts inside me, that made me question everything about who I was, who I wanted to be, what kind of world I wanted to live in.
I’m not blaming 9/11 for the tumultuous ride I’ve been on ever since. I take full credit for that myself. Nor am I seeking to assuage the responsibility I feel for the collateral damage my search for myself wrought on those I love the most. The Firstborn and the Genius paid a price too, that’s on me as well.
What I do know, is that this day, just two days before my birthday each year, is usually very melancholy, and just a bit tougher than it really ought to be.
How is this day for you? Where were you? Have you been left with fallout from that incredible day?