Do you ever have one of those weeks when you just feel grumpy about everything, when the little daily things just annoy and overwhelm? I'm having one of those weeks: My house is a mess, my yard is a mess, my checkbook's a mess. My kid just whines and cries at me constantly, my husband is home late every night, and they both just piss me off. Work is consistently aggravating. I'm short-tempered and bitchy. It's an ugly week.
Then this morning I got in the car to drive Sweet Boy to school, dread creeping in because I know he's going to scream and carry on when I drop him off. So I take a deep breath. After all, it's a beautiful almost-autumn morning. As we pull out of the driveway, a plane passes overhead. And I realize it's 8:45 on September 11th.
Suddenly I'm thinking about that horrible day in 2001 when we all lost so much. I recall the clear blue sky and the panic and the nausea. I recall the sharpness of the images but the fuzziness of my thoughts.
I remember the flood of relief when my brother phoned to tell me he was safe; he had missed his bus that morning and didn't make it to the audition in Manhattan. Instead he was standing on his front porch, witnessing the towers fall across the river from his house. He was crying and didn't know what was really happening; the only words I could understand were "it's a bomb! All I can see is smoke!" And I could only squeak out "Please God please God please God." I don't know what I was asking for, but I just kept praying it. From that moment, we didn't speak, but we stayed on the phone for 40 minutes, afraid to cut that connection. Just the sound of breath on the line kept us both calm.
I remember driving home from work in a fog -- they closed the office early because no one really knew what to do -- then gluing my eyes to the television when I got home, as if just seeing that the news anchors were still on the air meant that the world was still turning. The phone lines were all tied up, and I remember when Big Daddy walked through the door of our apartment, I just held on to him, just clung to him because he was the only thing I was sure of.
And I remember driving down I-95 on September 12th and thinking why is it so painfully bright today? I sobbed my way to the office that day, but I know I wasn't the only one crying on the highway.
September 11th was the worst day. Period. But I was one of the lucky few who didn't know anyone personally who was lost that day. Suddenly in this brief few minutes of remembering all the grumpies about the daily miscellany of my ugly week have left me. I've regained some perspective.