9/11: I Remember
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I remember the day 12 years ago when my life truly changed forever.  I will never forget it as long as I live.

It was early and the new man in my life, who I had recently moved in with (my parents were mad, I could tell, but they said nothing) was having breakfast and getting on his way to work.  I have never gotten used to his ability to rise early, and he can do it with ease, even though he hates it like liberalism.  He was eating some cereal and nursing a cup of coffee in his uniform when I rolled over and saw him from the bed in our apartment as the sun was poking through the windows on what was going to be a beautiful day in September.  I saw him turn on the TV as he was eating and he got this curious look on his face.

“Babe, you should come in here, a plane hit the World Trade Center.  A big one I think.”

To which I replied, “A what?  No Way.  I will get up in a minute.”

He kept watching and eating as I was watching him from our bed.  We hadn’t been together for very long, and I had dated “country” boys, but he was the most interesting “country boy” I had ever met and, at times, a frustrating man to be with.  Educated, so sure of himself, his values, his morals.  Hardened.  Focused.  I had dated one military guy when I was young, and he was the opposite of what I was used to from what you might call a “military man.”  Getting used to the work he did, and the often odd hours he kept and not talking about what he did, what he trained to do, that he carried a gun everywhere he went.  This was all very new to me as a woman over 30 working in an office with some of the most milquetoast, white bread men on the planet that had, up to that point, constituted my dating pool.

A short few minutes later as I was actually putting some clothes on and getting up, his look changed, and even if I get dementia in my old age, it is something I will never forget.  He stopped chewing, his eyes took on what I can only call a “steely squint.”  His spoon (gun) hand began shake slightly and he had a hardened focus I have never seen before or since.

I didn’t see it happen live, but I know that was the moment the 2nd plane hit the South Tower.

By that time, I was in the room and we just stood there.  Everything seemed to move in slow motion, and he said nothing, and then the “Bat-Phone” (the pager on his hip) beeped.  He pulled it off his belt and looked at it, betrayed no emotion and put it right back.

Tears are running down my face.  They are dripping onto my chest and I am wiping them on my pajamas and I am so mad; mad that he sees me like this, angry that I know what I saw on TV this morning isn’t an accident, angry because I can’t get control of myself or my emotions, angry because this may end the best thing I have ever started.

I watched as he set his spoon down, walked over to the coffee maker, filled his travel mug I gave him when we started dating and grabbed his truck keys off the counter, and in this moment, I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know how the rest of my life would go.  He held me so tight that he was smashing my boobs against him and I can’t hardly breathe.  I am holding him just as tight and I tried to speak, but I couldn’t, and he says to me…

“Shhhh….  Babe, it is going to be OK, but I have to go.  I will call you when I can.  I don’t know when that will be, and I know it will be hard, but watch the news.  I love you”

So much was running through my brain.  I had so many questions, but all I could manage was “I Love You too.  Where are you going?”

He replied with an ease that both frightened and comforted me as he walked out the door.

“I am going to kill the people who did this…”

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Ava Gardner