On 9/11/01, I was asleep when Cadillac ran in and turned on the television in the bedroom. “A plane hit the World Trade Center!” he said.
I was groggy and wondered if I was dreaming. We thought it must be a horrible accident, until it became apparent it wasn’t.
That morning, we had a mid-wife appointment first thing. I was about seven months pregnant with our son and had been on modified bed rest. We called to see if they were open; they were, but when we got there, we waited for two hours because the mid-wife was on the phone, trying to find her relatives back East. I don’t think they were in New York. After she determined they were safe, she called us in.
“It’s a terrible time to be pregnant,” she said when she finally saw us.
Is there ever a truly great time to be pregnant? There’s always a threat of something. People bore children during plagues, famines, depressions, World Wars, Civil Wars, the Cold War. In other countries, women have borne children in far worse daily living conditions than I had to imagine.
Children give the human race another chance, a change for the better. The effect of skipping a generation of children would have a far worse effect than any war or event.
That would be truly terrible.
After 9/11, the country came together in a way I’d never witnessed.
My husband and I had heard of Osama bin Laden before. In the late 90s, when my husband was in the Army, he had come home one day and told me that Osama bin Laden had put a price on the heads of American servicemen.
In those days, pre 9-11, most non-military people I knew didn’t hang flags at their homes. People like my husband, who enlisted in the peacetime Army out of a sense of patriotic duty, were looked askance at. After he got out and was interviewing with the LAPD, they told him they didn’t like to hire out of the military, because they felt military people were too hardcore.
On 9-11, that all changed.
Neither Cadillac nor I responded to the mid-wife’s statement that day. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat, steady and strong.
We continued on our way.
The baby is a boy, nearly 10. Tallest in his class. Lover of animals. Caretaker of his sisters. Imperfect, like all of us. Was a difficult baby and child; he cried at the drop of a pin until he was 8. Known to absently pick his nose up until this year.
And sweet. Nicer than I can even imagine myself being. Once, at a grocery store, we ran into a kid and his father, from school. This kid had a layer of grime on him. The kid, Eldest told me, kept getting suspended for fighting. Nobody liked him. He was violent, he didn’t bathe, he wasn’t too swift. His father scared people with his huge old van, emblazoned with handmade religious posters.
But here went my son, right up to this pariah of a child, and clapped the kid on the shoulder and pumped the kid’s hand. “Hey, how you doing! Good to see you,” my son said. The kid beamed and ducked his head.
“How do you know him?” I asked.
“From school,” he said.
Not terrible at all.