There are all kinds of anniversaries…
Today, September 11Th, 2011 we mark one of them. The anniversary of our sorrow when thousands died because of the senseless act of terror perpetrated upon us by a few bloodthirsty maniacs. Sorry, I do not have another, more politically correct work for the architects of this horrendous terror attack.
So, where were we when it happened…
We moved back to Brooklyn from upstate New York just a couple of weeks before. We were just settling in. It was pretty hard, I was very pregnant and the pregnancy was not an easy one. Two days before 9/11 DH’s uncle passed away and he had to go to the funeral in another state. I could not go, because I could barely move. I thought DH would stay the night with his cousins and come home next day, but my MIL insisted that he must get back that same night, no matter how late it got. Ten years later I am still grateful to her for that. The early morning bus DH wanted to take would have put him very close to the Ground Zero at exactly the wrong time.
We did not have TV or a radio (still do not) so on September 11 in the morning we went out to the shops not knowing that our world has irrevocably changed.
I have lived through two very tragic things that since then has become a part of the history. An explosion of Chernobyl atomic reactor and a mass murder perpetrated by terrorists on 9/11. In both cases I have been close enough to feel the repercussions.
So there we were walking blithely, when someone told us that the towers were hit and that the Pentagon has also been bombed. We stood staring dumbly at each other. How could the Pentagon has been hit? For us, people, who grew up in Russia, Pentagon was never just a building. Instead it was a symbol of “America the Strong”. So how does one destroy such a powerful symbol? We just could not believe it.
That day, turned out to be one of the longest days of my life. In some ways it has not ended, ever. And probably never would. I remember trying to get in touch with my parents, to reassure them that we were OK. Sitting with elderly friends, two of their children worked in the Twin Towers. Trying to figure out who might be caught there. Praying. Hoping. Crying.
First one, young men staggered in absolutely shockey. He has been late to work that day and has seen the towers fall through the subway window. Then, many hours later, phone call from the wife of the second brother. He finally got home. After crawling through streets and the bridge, after walking home, getting lost and wondering around. He fell asleep almost immediately. We thanked G-d. Later the stories of many miracles started trickling in, helping us to see the greatness of the human spirit even when faced with certain death. And a hand of G-d that has separated the ones who will live from the ones who will not. I hope someone will put together a book about the beauty of the human spirit shown in the face of this terrible tragedy. All the stories. About a man, who stayed behind with his wheelchair bound co-worker. About the ones, who were helping to save lives and lost their own. And stories about a Father, who walked his upset kindergarten to school, missed his carpool and was saved. A bus driver getting one flat after another and 50 people in the bus missing a train to Manhattan. About my friend, who used to be determined to “have a career”, she was rescued from the tower, and she says that while she crawled through the bridge she kept thinking: “If I die now, my kids will hardly remember who I am, they will mostly remember the nanny”. She made a decision to stay home for her kids. A decision that is very hard when you have a lot of little people to feed and close.
As to us, well, I too made a decision. A decision to go home, to Israel. I did not make it right away, but with time the 9/11 was the crucial answer to the question “Are not you afraid to live in Israel?” And the answer was not anymore. Because when we woke up on the morning of September 11Th none of us knew that a war has been declared that the last “safe place” The United Stated of America is not safe anymore. I have finally was ready to trust G-d not only with big things (like making sure that the night and day did not get mixed up), but with little things too – like keeping my family safe.
In the interesting twist the date of my wedding anniversary by the standard (not Jewish) calendar is September 11Th too. So today we have been married for 15 years, but we celebrate it in a few days in accordance with the Jewish calendar.
So, for me September 11Th is the day of endings and a day of beginnings.