It’s not often I delete a half written post, but I just have. I wanted to write something meaningful about the coverage of the 9/11 anniversary this weekend, but honestly I don’t have the stomach for it. Maybe I’d just end up adding to the one thing I find so difficult about our world wide tendency to have 24 hour coverage of world events with sombre voiced newsreaders. So I’ll just add my quiet salute to all those people and their mothers and fathers and wives and husbands and lovers and children and more. Because I do remember that day for all it’s horror and dreadfulness, but I also remember what it taught me that was good.
I remember that 10 years ago I was already part of a community of people I cared about and who were part of those who relayed messages of concern and safety around the world. I remember it was the day I realised that emails with certain keywords in them really were coming through more slowly than others. It was the day that I had a job to go to in the evening, one where I was responsible for people in a very human way and that as they came into the room, they were reeling with shock. I remember that for one evening we put aside how many lbs each person had lost and frightened people were comforted and angry people talked and shocked people cried and I had the common sense to know that whatever I was paid for, that night all those men and women needed to be with people and commune and, slowly, be made to laugh and smile and gird their loins for the conversations they had to have with their children that night.
On that day I stood, with Amelie in my belly, knowing my husband was supposed to begin a regular jaunt to the US in a couple of weeks – and I became afraid. It was a fear I was not going to even begin to shake off for 6 more years. I stood as a young mum with my hands to my face and didn’t notice that my 3 and 1 year old were playing ever more hysterical games around my feet, while I failed to realise they were drinking in my horror and the images on the screen. I watched my unflappable husband come home unaware and then stand with his head in his hands as he watched, knowing that by the next day the American firm he worked for would be in meltdown. I failed to be grown up and logical for a lot of years after that, but I did learn it in the end.
But I did notice when a couple of days later my girls started to act out the news with towers of video tapes and a little plane that had belonged to my brother. That, I think, was when I noticed properly that they were people and they noticed things and they had their own ways of coping and recovering. I remembered that moment a lot of times over the years, but most of all when I watched them play out SCBU games in the aftermath of Freddie’s death. That knowledge helped me to allow them to do that.
It may not be much, it certainly won’t be anything to anyone who was properly affected by that awful day. Perhaps it is a bad thing to say how I was altered by a day where I lost nothing at all, but one of the things I’ve learned since Freddie died is sometimes you have to take the good where you can find it, even in the midst of horror and despair. I know there are people who are changed, for better or worse, by Freddie’s death and it helps me to know his little life had an impact. My tiny contribution to the force for good that those who grieved since 9/11 will have eventually have hoped for, is that I became a slightly better mother that day. And that I won’t forget, ever, that terrible things happen and that all people who are left behind can do is carry on and try the hell to make something good come out of it.