This guest post comes from Melissa, the first non-family member I called after the attacks. This was supposed to go up yesterday, sorry!
There are moments in life when you are able to look at something and say, no, this is definitely not right, this is not the way things are supposed to be. September 11, 2001 is one of those days. Tomorrow is the anniversary and it is always a hard day for me. 12 years ago I was obviously asleep in my college dorm room loving every minute of this fabulous life I had. And then, in a matter of moments, everything was different. And I knew, even then, that these were moments that everything went wrong.
The entire world changed in those moments. Lives of thousands of people were cut short, but there were countless other lives that were forever altered. People changed jobs, became activists, enlisted in the army, didn’t leave on a vacation… there were children that were never born because in a moment, mom or dad wasn’t there anymore. Or maybe they were, and love wasn’t strong enough to keep a marriage together. Or maybe you met someone, took a chance on love, because you just couldn’t hurt anymore. And your life is better because of that love. Maybe there is a beautiful blessed baby today in your life because things went so terribly wrong. How many paths were changed?
I was ready to pack up and spend half of junior year in Spain. My boyfriend at the time, who I kept wishing would propose already, was a police officer in NYC and his family were either police or fire members in the city or suburbs. My family are born and raised in NY and it is so much of who I am. And I could not leave. In the immediate aftermath, with so much confusion, there were questions about where my mom was, my sister, and the love of my life. I knew I couldn’t walk away from them. As the first moments wore away and it became days, weeks removed, I was even more certain. I could not imagine leaving the safety net of my country, my family, my home. Were there more attacks coming? Were we heading to war? So many unknowns…
In the end, I stayed here in the US. And my boyfriend officially became my fiance a year and a half later. We married three years and one day after the attacks.
Tonight, sitting on my couch watching Mickey Mouse with my almost 7 year old and 2 year old on my lap, I realized that I am here because I am supposed to be here. With my family and my house and my pets and my stupid little problems with a forgetful boy and an overactive and loud little girl, this is my home and where I belong. This is exactly where I need to be.
With tears in my eyes, I held my babies closer. Tomorrow, I will pause and remember those we lost because that is what I do every year. But I will also pause and cherish all of the good things that I have because of those moments when everything went wrong.