Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/11 In Honor, In Memoriam, My Story, My World

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September 11, 2001

I remember it was my first day of homeschooling, and I was upstairs in my bedroom, seeing how long I could go on playing pretend before my mother came to wake me up from my fantasies. 


I was a princess that morning, as many young girls were, and I had met my handsome prince in paradise, he gave me roses, and all was right in the world. 

Years later I would look back and see the stark comparison of the before/after, and how make believe and happily ever afters would never taste as sweet as they did that last morning, before I dreamed of a kiss that woke me from a certain fairytale once and for all. 

I took off my costume, and wondered why Mamma hadn't come to find me. How had I been able to steal those extra minutes of play, when I should have been downstairs learning something real? When I padded downstairs, I didn't know it, but the greatest lesson of my young life was only footsteps away.


We had a small TV in my kitchen, which my parents were crowded around in the too-hard chairs my father always complained about. His face was ashen, I've never seen my naturally tan father so pale, and my mother's cheeks were streaked with tears. 

I had only moments to wonder what the buildings on the T.V. were, before they fell. 

I would later see a movie with a three second splice of the NYC skyline before 9/11, but the first time I saw the twin towers was the last time they stood, at all.


Where it took years to see the irony of pretending to be a princess in a castle tower only hours before the attacks, and only moments for all those towers to be destroyed, it was a few days before I knew how lucky I was to see my father in that uncomfortable chair that morning, and how easily he could have been in another chair, the captain's chair, in an American Airlines plane, flying too close to death, ten years ago today. It was three days later when he went to fly a trip that took him over the famous skyline, the air still thick with smoke, him flying through it, unaware of what lay ahead, that I understood.

Before... I cried over a skinned knee, and other insignificant instances that marked me as a child. 

After... I cry every time I see this:

Or this:

Or hear the words that have defined heroism in my life, in this age, and for our world:

"Let's Roll"

I ache to realize that a day which has defined my generation, and that created a true united states for a time, will be just another date to memorize for my grandchildren, though it is so branded in my mind, and upon my heart. 

Like a ghost plane coming out of the blue, it hits me over and over again, not just on the anniversary, but anytime I've hugged my dad, and let him go to work, because I do that in the knowledge that he might not come back. 

I learned how to do that very young, and that is the world I live in, because I've been a Post-9/11 daughter longer than I had to live as a Princess in a storybook. I am not the only one.


To live in this world, what I've learned is to pray:

God, Bless America.

-Gabrielle Carolina

September 11, 2011


We Heart YA said...

This was beautiful. Thank you.

Kelly said...

This made me cry. It's beautifully written and such a touching story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Anne Greenwood Brown said...