On September 10, I wondered why God didn’t answer our prayers for a baby. For months, we waited, hopeful that we would be blessed with a child. We were surprised by our disappointment, given the fact that we married without any desire to have children at all. (Too many years working in restaurants cleaning gummed-up cracker paste off table tops ruined the allure of parenthood.)
On September 11, my own difficulties became trivial. One moment shattered my illusions of safety. One day redefined what I thought I knew. That day, I thanked God for not answering our prayers. A child shouldn’t have to live in such a damaged world, I thought.
The thing I didn’t ponder immediately was that world has been messed up since nearly the beginning. All this time, innocent people have died at the hands of those who felt they were justified. September 11, 2001 was the culmination of an orchestrated symphony of hatred.
The only difference? It hit close to home. True, it happened on the other side of the country, but I mourned for the families of those who died; those who committed no crime except going to work that day, or boarding an ill-fated flight.
On September 12, I drove to work with the rising sun, just like I had done for my entire post-college career. (Okay, it was only about five years, but I’ve known the rising sun forever.) The hopelessness I took to bed, at some point during the night, fled into the darkness. In my car, I listened to the music on the radio, just like I did every morning. In the aftermath of tragedy, sunshine and music comforted me. Fear dwelled inside me, but I vowed: fear would not bind me forever.
Three days later, madness found its way to my area. A Sikh was killed in retaliation for the WTC attacks, targeted because of the clothes he wore and his “Arab” appearance. I felt sick. It seemed that hatred bred anger and more hatred – and I feared it would spread like a wildfire in the dry Arizona forest, destroying everyone in its path. Thankfully, the embers did not ignite.
On this September 11th, ten years and two children later, I refuse to live in fear. I live, because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I feel sadness for those who lost loved ones on that day, while I thank God daily for the blessings in my life. I go to work five days a week, but my job is not my life. I reject hatred as a way to avoid people or faiths I don’t understand.
If I show fear or animosity toward another person because of their country of origin, appearance, or religion, how would I be any different from those men who took hundreds of lives ten years ago today?
How did September 11th touch you? Did you rethink your career, or your priorities? Did you decide to travel more, or less? Did you move closer to family? Spend more time with friends?