Yesterday, so much of social media was filled with various pictures and posts asking for us to “Never forget,” or if we remembered what we were doing that day, the day the world stopped.
I will never forget.
Of course I remember that day. The day before had been my husband’s birthday. We hadn’t been able to celebrate it, because I’d been at the hospital. I was pregnant and overcome with hyperemesis gravidarum, and had spent the day before getting fluids through an IV. We’d gotten our 6-year-old daughter off to morning kindergarten, and I was taking a shower when my 4-year-old daughter ran into the bathroom screaming. I grabbed a towel and followed her out.
“Daddy says come! Daddy says come out!”
My husband was pointing at the television. The notice had come across while the children were watching “Franklin”, he told me. So he’d switched it to the news channel, and footage of the first plane smashing into the World Trade Center held us mesmerized. My stomach heaved. My husband handed me a bucket.
I vomited. Again.
Then, the second plane.
Quickly following was the news about the Pentagon.
Over and over and over, the photos flashed.
We curled up on the couch, my little girl and my one-and-a-half year old little boy. I held a hand protectively over the growing life in my belly.
We wondered if we should get our daughter from class early. The sky, the roads, even her school…everywhere felt so unsafe.
Every backfire of a vehicle seemed a gunshot.
My parents stopped by to give my husband a birthday gift. He opened it and thanked them, but there weren’t many smiles. It seemed strange to wish him a happy birthday.
We tried to talk, but there was an odd buzzing static in our guts and voices.
After several hours, I changed the channel to old “Golden Girls” reruns. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I wanted to make it a dream.
My daughter came home from kindergarten, and the shake in her voice reminded me of the day I was in first grade, watching on our grainy little class television set as the space shuttle took off.
No. I will never forget September 11, 2001. I still get violent chills and a sickening feeling fills me whenever I think of that day.
And I will never forget the violent chills and the taste of vomit in my mouth that shook me on April 1, 2009.
My father’s open eyes, staring. My mother, frantic and screaming. Me, lying on the floor of their garage, crying for my Daddy.
Sitting in my SUV with my little boy, watching as the ambulance bounced up and down, up and down.
One, two, three, four, five, pause, one, two, three, four, five, pause…
Paramedics doing their best at what we all knew was a lost cause.
And I’ll never forget July 27, 2013.
My beautiful sister was so thin. Eighty pounds, maybe. Even on morphine, the obvious struggle to inhale even the tiniest breath of air was a horrible amount of work. Her beautiful long hair was gone, replaced by the bright chemo scarves I’d sewn to cover her bald head.
Sometimes, she woke up and knew us. Sometimes, she woke up and didn’t.
Sometimes, she woke up and cried.
And then she was gone.
My heart, my soul was shaken again; broken into so many pieces, I never thought I could find them again, let alone put them back together.
I will never forget.
September 11, 2014.
I didn’t attend the local remembrance ceremony, but I know the lives that were lost will never be forgotten, and will serve as a reminder for generations to come as absolute heroism.
Instead, I dug around in my yarn stash and came up with some white, and a little blue-green baby yarn.
And I made a hat.
It wasn’t a fancy hat by any means. Just a regular little baby hat, with a teensy bill and a fluffy pom-pom on top.
I finished it just in time to make me late to the restaurant where I met with my sister-in-law, my mother, and my nephew’s girlfriend.
I shook a bit inside as I hugged her, and felt the roundness of her belly.
I swiped a tear as I handed her the baby hat.
It won’t be much longer before my great-nephew makes an appearance, and I love him like my own, already.
His name will be Emmett.
Had my sister lived, he would be her first living grandson. (Her first passed away last year, before we ever got to meet him.)
His middle name will be after my father.
When I hold him in my arms, I will look at him and see hope for tomorrow.
For my future. For his future.
Grief doesn’t go away, really. We are shaken by it, and think we cannot possibly go on. We wear it as an extra layer of skin, a reminder of what we have survived. It changes us, certainly.
But we cannot remain stuck in it. We cannot let it hold us still.
For the ones who were lost, wanted to live.
And for them, we should.
For them, we must.
We have to keep going.