The other night I sat and watched the National Geographic program “Inside 9/11: Zero Hour.” As I sat and watched, I was struck by how powerfully the emotions of that day 10 years ago came flooding back. The raw, overpowering fear and anger I felt watching the images and video and listening to the audio recordings of that day left a knot in my stomach.
At some point, my nine-year-old son, Alex, came in the room and sat down on the couch. He asked what I was watching.
I tried to explain the program to him in a way he could wrap his head around. I wavered between wanting him to know what happened but concerned about him possibly witnessing the images from that day that still haunt me. After all, he has lived his whole life under the shadow of that day and the fallout from it. I wondered if this was how parents felt when trying to explain events like Pearl Harbor or other national catastrophes.
I decided to let him watch with me for a while, my hand ever ready on the remote to veer away from anything I thought too graphic or disturbing. Always my inquisitive child, he started peppering me with questions about that day. Where were you mom? Did you know anyone who died? Why did those people attack us? Will they do it again?
We watched the tales of the responders and survivors recount that day. They spoke of what they did, what they thought, what they felt. Alex turned to me and asked, “What did you do that day, Mom?”
I looked at my boy—not even born yet on that fateful day—and told him: “I prayed.”
This weekend, as the memories and emotions come flooding back once again amidst the recollections and memorials, I’ll be doing exactly the same thing I did 10 years ago.
Featured photo: PhotoXpress/Luigi Visco