I remember 

9/11 is probably the most meaningful and memorable day for me. I think it should become a federal holiday, because it means tons more than Presidents’ Day or (for us in Illinois) Casimir Pulaski Day. I’m sure D-Day meant as much to another generation. But this is the day that always gets my heart stuck in my throat. I don’t want to celebrate, but I still grieve. How quickly we forget how united we became, how we all mourned together. Most of us in the nation didn’t know anyone directly affected by the attacks, yet we were all connected to them.

I remember the first days, when time stopped and we all waited. The unending newscasts replaying the same footage over and over. We waited to find out what really happened, and whether there were survivors. We celebrated through our grief when we heard stories of the ordinary people who fought bravely to stop the terrorists on the plane, the first responders who worked tirelessly to do their duty, not their job.

And over the next few weeks, when there was no more news, yet we still saw those same images on tv because we weren’t sure if we could move on, and we wondered when it would be okay to joke again, to laugh again, to celebrate birthdays and weddings and life again.

Eventually, though, we did move on. Our lives started again. We had to go to work, pay the bills, buy groceries. Eventually 9/11 became a memory, albeit still raw and not too distant. At some point we rarely thought about it except when September rolled around and we remembered, because you can’t say the date without conjuring up those images again. Now every year, I try to carry on and forget about the day, but then it hits me and before I know it there’s that lump in my throat again.

I remember. I won’t forget.

As an aside, I want to recommend a little-known movie called The Guys from 2002. It stars Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia. The Guys gave a voice to the grief that was still so fresh. Go check it out.

Image courtesy heavy.com

Since then

I got divorced after about 18 years together. It was extremely painful. I was on my own for the first time in my life. I had to learn who I was, what I liked, everything. I literally started over. No furniture, no dishes, nothing but a few of the things I took with me. I got everything I could through garage sales, thrift stores, giveaways, and a few gifts.

The night I moved out, I bawled my eyes out the entire 20-minute drive to my aunt’s. I lived in her basement for a few months until the divorce was final and I could close on a house. I spent that time mostly working and sleeping. I would come home after work and go right to my room, and generally I would go to sleep around 7 or 8.
I spent the next year grieving the loss of what I had planned for myself, hating men and meeting a lot of men (through work as well as dates) who reinforced all the negative traits in the men I’d known before, and starting a life that centered around me.

I never wanted to go back, but it was still hard to get over. I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t have any more children, and I mourned that loss. It took a long time to realize my new identity and to be comfortable with my plans on my terms.

It’s more than three years later, and sometimes when I wake up, I still think it’s him in bed with me. I don’t miss him, but it’s like the ghost of my former life is there with me in that twilight time between sleeping and waking. I’m not sure what house I’m in or what day it is. Then I wake and remember my boyfriend’s face and what my home looks like and I’m in the present again.

Your life with him will always be a part of you, and years from now you will sometimes feel pain or anger or sadness when you think about how it should have been if he’d treated you fairly. But you’ll get past this sooner than you think, and you’ll be a stronger, better you.