Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Later

Five years ago today, I had just graduated from the IT program at MUN. My friends and fellow IT graduates--Bob and Jeannie--and I decided to go to a job fair that day to look for work. We met at Jeannie's house and while we were in her basement, just about to leave, her mother called out from upstairs: "a plane has hit the World Trade Centre and it's on fire". I pictured a Piper or Cessna, off-course and accidentally hitting it and thought nothing more of it. We left and went to Churchill Square where we had a smoke outside and turned on the radio in Bob's car to hear further news about the plane and the building. There was nothing. No news is good news we thought and if it was important we would have heard more about it.

At the job fair we would split up, pass resum├ęs to recruiters and then meet back. Each of us would have new stories to share about the plane crash in New York, rumours rippling through the crowd: the other tower had been hit, there were missing hijacked planes, the Pentagon had been hit and so had the White House. We didn't believe them and considered them overdramatic, too incredible to be real. At least until we got back to Jeannie's house and her mom told us what was happening. She and Jeannie were worried about Jeannie's sister in Toronto because she worked in a tall building and suddenly all tall buildings were scary. Bob went home while Jeannie and I sat down to watch TV, seeing replayed the once live images of horror we thought incomprehensible mere moments before. I remember the first time I saw the towers fall and how Jeannie grabbed my arm while we both gasped in disbelief. It didn't seem possible, even as we saw it unfold.

Five years later, Bob is gone. He died suddenly this summer and one of the few times I've seen Jeannie in the past few years was at the funeral home for Bob's wake. It didn't seem possible that day at Jeannie's house, that he could be gone five years from then.

Five years later, I have a son. Unimagined on that September 11, he makes it difficut to remember a time before he existed. Five years later, I watched him the other day, see, for the first time, the plane go into the second tower. It was a promo for something on CBC. There was no warning, just a sudden close-up of the plane, as close a shot as I have ever seen. I saw the image on the screen and immediately turned to look at my near three-year-old. He had seen it, unusual since his attention is never on the television unless a cartoon is on it. His face reflected the same thing I'd felt, we all felt, those years before. His face was confusion and fear and horror and I immediately told him that it was not real. "That is only pretend," I said, "like when you pretend to knock down your towers you make of blocks". "It's like a movie," my husband said quickly.

"Yeah," my son said, nodding, and smiled. How I envied his ability to believe the lie so easily. One day I know he will know the truth and hopefully he won't remember that I was not honest with him. But when I saw that look on his face all I wanted to do was make the reality go away, to give him a little more time before he has to find out how ugly the world can sometimes be. That's all I can do right now for him, five years later from that day none of us will ever forget.

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