9/11: Thief of a Mother’s Breath

Momservation: Everyone is someone’s child who loves them. Even the jerks who cut you off in traffic.

☺        ☺        ☺

Whitney, 5 months, and Logan, 22 months, watching “Elmo’s World” on 9/11 just before I got the phone call to turn the channel.

I was going to write something snarky today about things husbands should never say to their wives if they’re hoping to get some. I know it’s like cutting away from a Giant’s ninth inning tie with bases loaded and Buster Posey on deck for the husbands out there, but they’re just going to have to wait until next week.

That’s because I remembered it was 9/11 and I started reading tributes to those who died. I realized nothing I said today in humor would be worth taking a moment to reflect on how that day in our American history changed everything.

And since I’m a mother and a family columnist, I can’t help but to see it through a mother’s eyes.

The people who died in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and on the airplanes that were fashioned into flying bombs were all somebody’s children. There were thousands of mothers on 9/11 who suddenly felt the air escape their lungs unable to breathe anymore, choking on the air that had turned rancid as soon as their child ceased to breathe.

The suicide bombers who took those lives were someone’s children. Someone had given birth to them, perhaps loved them and dreamed the wildest hopes of a mother: that her children would go on to do great things that would leave this world a better place for them having been in it. She too, could no longer breathe after 9/11.

And millions of mothers everywhere felt their breath stolen from them when they suddenly were forced to imagine and fear what kind of world their children were born into. A world where a mother’s child can have so much black hatred in their heart that your innocent child isn’t safe going to work, or riding an airplane, or living a life to make this world a better place.

My children were five months old and 22 months old on 9/11. My heart was bursting with excitement and anticipation; the audacity of hope for what their young futures held. Receiving a frightening phone call to turn the channel from the refreshing innocence of Sesame Street to an image of the North Tower collapsing stole my breath away.

I turned to my babies sitting on the floor, confusion coloring their expressions on why Elmo’s World suddenly disappeared and I couldn’t breathe in fear for their future. A world, that only moments ago, held so much hopeful possibilities had turned into a horrific and unfathomable place. I wanted to scoop my babies up and hide them, still innocent and unscathed, from such an ugly world, but I didn’t know where to run.

And even if I could run with them somewhere, it would be impossible because I couldn’t breathe.

On 9/11 I joined millions of mothers around the world whose breath had been stolen from them.

In the eleven years since then, we have found a way to effortlessly breathe again with hope for the future, despite the irreversible wretched shift the world took.

But on 9/11every year I’ll never forget the 2,996 mothers who still have to remind themselves every day to still breathe.

Leave a Reply