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in the pale afternoon


That’s me. 23 years old. 9 months pregnant (though it felt more like 20). In our living room in our old apartment in Squirrel Hill. Smiling but scared to death.

About 3 months prior to when that picture was taken, I had sat in that room in my bathrobe and watched the September 11, 2001 attacks unfold on our TV.

“This isn’t real,” I had said, as mighty towers crumpled and fell. “This can’t be real.”

I don’t like to…own too much of the emotion of that day. It was terrifying for everyone, but I didn’t know anyone in those towers or on those planes, and the few people I knew in those cities were safe. I didn’t have any loved ones in the military.

All I had was a baby inside me. He squirmed and turned, blissfully unaware of anything outside of my belly, as I sat and seriously wondered if this was it, if this was the end of everything. And if it wasn’t, what would happen tomorrow? Being pregnant had stirred up so much introspection of my worth as a human being and now I had to wonder, really wonder, about the worth of the world that I was forcing him into.

There’s a Bob Dylan song called “Masters of War.” It’s angry and chilling and not at all pleasant.

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

I’ve felt this way toward many people, not just toward cartoonish men with dastardly terrorist networks. I’ve felt it toward presidents and governors and senators and captains of industry. When I’m particularly angry, I listen to this song and I get it out. I let the anger happen, I let it have its moment, and then I’m ready for action, whatever form that may take.

Strong emotions live inside moments. I thought it was weird to see people celebrating, but I’m not going to tell anyone how they should feel immediately following something like this. I’m not rejoicing bin Laden’s death, but I am glad that his time among us has come to an end. I heard and read a LOT of things after his demise was announced. Very little of it was constructive, but all of it was emotional. That moment is over now, though. Now we figure out where to go from here. Things felt and said yesterday are in the past and there are hopefully many tomorrows to be lived.

1 comment to in the pale afternoon

  • I have a similar 9/11 story to yours, Kelly.

    On that 2001 day, I had just found out I was pregnant with my third child, Emma. She would be my husband’s first baby. At the time, he was in the Marine Corps, and was stationed in North Carolina for a 12-week military course. The minutes after the towers and Pentagon were hit, and during which planes were still unaccounted for and on-base communications were blocked, were some of the longest of my life. I will never forget that feeling. That fear.

    I can’t say the world feels safer without OBL in it, but it doesn’t necessarily feel less safe to me either. I don’t think I have ever really let my guard down.

    I can say that I am glad he is no longer breathing the same oxygen as the rest of us on this planet.

    I’ve never really talked much about that day to anyone but my husband, and I’ve never written about it. I feel like I might now. Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective. xo

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