HOW CAN IT BE, I wonder as I eat my BLT sandwich at noon, that half the day has passed without my considering that today is 9/11?
Have I become so complacent in eight years that I forget the significance of this day?
So I think. And I remember.
I remember the phone call from my husband alerting me to the first crash of an airliner into the first World Trade Center tower.
I immediately switch on the television set, not quite believing what he has told me. And then not long thereafter, I hear the sheer disbelief in the news anchor’s voice as the second jet steers into the second tower.
The horror of it all brings tears and an incredible feeling of fear unlike any I’ve ever felt.
On the floor, my 7-year-old son, who is home sick from school, and his friend Sam play, seemingly oblivious to the real-life action playing out on the screen.
But later, I watch as they stack wooden blocks into towers and then ram toy airplanes into the spires, sending blocks tumbling across the living room carpet.
How, I wondered back then, back eight years ago, could I explain to them that what they saw on television was real, very real, and not just a television show?
Here’s a poem I penned shortly after 9/11:
September 11, 2001
You clutch your silver toy jetliners
then blast them into the twin towers,
blocks scattering across the floor.
Like that show on TV,
you tell me,
where the planes crashed
into those two tall buildings.
Somehow I must tell you
that this was no show on TV,
but real people
in real buildings.
Moms and Dads
with little boys just like you,
boys who build towers and fly toy airplanes.
How do I begin to show you the truth
behind a scene so terrifying
that it keeps replaying in my mind?
Hollywood could have written the script,
the latest disaster film, grossing millions
for an industry embedded in itself.
You’re right; this could be a show on TV.
Except this is very real,
so real that I want you to believe
those were just pretend buildings, pretend airplanes.
But you see the worry in my eyes,
hear the sadness in my voice.
You know the truth,
even before I tell you.
My son, only seven years old,
too young to fully understand
the evil that has invaded the world,
the fear that grips the American heart, my heart,
the sense of security forever lost.
Like so many blocks scattered across the floor,
we must pick up the pieces and rebuild, peace by peace.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling