Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The fall of 2001 has a great deal of meaning for me. I remember sitting at the computer, bleary eyed from yet another night of insomnia, reading the obituary newsgroup and seeing a post about the twin towers. As I read more, my eyes widened and my mouth dropped open. I raced to the television and turned it on. I can't remember what channel was on, but there was the tower with smoke billowing, flames orange against such a clear blue sky.

To my shock I saw another plane, within seconds of turning on the tv, turn into the tower and strike it. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even move to sit down. I stood there watching in horror.

All I could think of were the children on those planes. How frightened they must be in their last moments. Did they suffer? What kind of monsters would do that to children?

Then I thought of the adults. I have a huge problem with being empathic. I am constantly feeling what people feel and living emotionally what they live. I was suffocating with all the emotion from those lives snuffed out so brutally and the anguish from those left behind.

A few weeks later I was in the radiologist's office staring at my mammogram, looking at the little sun with an aura radiating that was my tumor. She didn't say the word "cancer" but she didn't have to. She asked me if I had a surgeon and was there anyone she could call to come get me. I told her my surgeon's name and thanked her but the drive home was a forty-five minute one and my husband wouldn't be able to come get me anyway because I had the car.

I had so much to think about in those forty-five minutes. By the time I got home, the radiologist had called my physician who had called my husband to tell him of my appointment with the surgeon.

Still the word "cancer" hadn't been mentioned.

Obviously six years later, I'm still here but that was the year from hell for me and my family. In the course of that year, my father-in-law died from metastatic esophogeal cancer, my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, the world went to hell and I had cancer.

I felt so selfish that I didn't continue mourning with the rest of the world. But all I could think of was me and mine. While everyone was grieving and dealing with all the anger, I was going bald, swelling up and feeling weak, trying to salvage as much of my life as I could. And wondering if that Christmas would be my last.

As much as I do feel for the people who died in that tragedy (and let's not forget the Pentagon and United 93) other people mourned their own losses more privately and quietly. Children died from abuse or accidents or illnesses. Fathers and mothers were left with empty arms. Their pain was no less than that of the families of the tragedy of 9/11. It just wasn't as well-known. A little girl went missing. A mother left work and never came home...was never heard from again. A little boy was hit by a car and left paralyzed for life. A man, driving home from work on his motorcycle was hit by a drunk driver. His very young children will never know him.

So maybe I have a different perspective on 9/11. Yes, it was a time when we suffered a tremendous loss. But to be honest we suffer that loss every day. We just don't know it.

We should grieve over the national tragedy of people killed by drunk drivers. Or children who are murdered by their own parents. Or kids showing off and driving too fast..and they take someone else along with them when they kill themselves. Or when stupid diseases like cancer take someone you love away from you by inches.

9/11 happens every day in some way to some one. We just don't hear about it because it's not news.

Never forget 9/11. But never forget the other 364 days either.


Angie said...

Great post. I'm certainly glad you're still here and are a survivor. Our personal tragedies absorb us, naturally, and are no less important than another's -- publicized or not.

Vicki Knitorious said...

Kathy, this is a wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you.