Riley was 15 months old when 9/11 happened. As a result of those horrible events, I decided I didn’t want to bring another child into this scary world.
Seth came anyway.
Ten years already. The sky was so blue. We lived in the Chicago suburbs. I’d been out walking the baby in the stroller accompanied by a friend and her dog. People came running out of their houses,“Did you hear?” We quickened our pace, anxious to get home. I was so terrified. Alone all day with the damn TV, hugging my baby. Afraid to turn it off thinking something else might be happening, feeling I had to stay informed. Wanting to keep her safe. Todd worked all day and didn’t get home ’til 10:00PM. He had clients in from out of town and took them out to dinner per protocol. I thought dinner could be skipped, just this once. Selfish of me to be so mad, when so many never came home that day. But I was frantic. I was livid.
What did my Riley take in that day? Little ones absorb so much. Did she understand what was happening with all those images on TV? Did she feel my anxiety? Of course she did.
A few days later a Pakastani woman wailed on our door. Intuitively, I knew it was her, our neighbor across the street. Her husband no doubt taking a lot of heat, and taking it out on her. I didn’t want to open it. I didn’t want to open it until we’d dialed 911, but there was no time to discuss, and Todd flung the door open despite my gesture to wait. Wait ’til I get the phone! She barreled into the house looking like a wild animal. He’d tried to choke her. I’d never seen fear like the fear in her eyes, and my knees went weak. It felt like her husband might any second be busting in the door right after her, and what would happen to my baby if he killed all of us?
It took me a long time to forgive Todd for not coming home ’til 10:00PM. It took me a long time to forgive him for opening the door that night, before I had the phone.
There is a certain kind of day. Where the sky is the bluest blue. And there is a slight hint of crisp in the air, barely there. And there is a glorious breeze. And there is not a cloud in the sky. And in my mind those are “9/11” days. And calling them 9/11 days doesn’t ruin them for me. It makes me value them. It makes me remember. It makes me reverent. It makes me appreciate my life and want to live it more fully.
One week before the first anniversary of 9/11, Seth O’Neil was born.
My own personal proof that fear and anger and hate didn’t win.