This month’s Blogging for Books topic is to write about a pivotal moment in your life as a parent. I was sitting at my computer, contemplating what to write about, when I saw the news about the London bombings. And that led me to my post of the day.
On Monday, September 11, 2001, the Bee was about to turn 2, and I was pregnant with our second child. I went to my local coffee shop to get my daily (miniscule) caffeine fix (yes, I know I was pregnant & you’re not supposed to drink caffeine) on the way to work. It was there that I first saw the footage of the World Trade Center attacks. I stood there, stupidly, for a few minutes, watching the tv with everyone else in line. At that point, only one plane had hit one tower, and we didn’t yet know the agony & destruction that were soon to follow. I left the coffee shop & went into the office, where my shiny new intern was sitting, waiting for me to start his second week of work. I told him what I had seen on tv, and we both immediately started trying to get online to see what was going on. I called landisdad, who was watching the coverage with his co-workers, and we discussed it for a few minutes. After a frustrating few minutes of trying to get onto the CNN website, my intern and I finally just went to the basement of our building, where there was an ancient tv. We spent most of the morning down there, until we finally decided to leave work for the day a little bit after noon.
In the following days, landisdad and the Bee and I joined the country in mourning the deaths of our fellow citizens. We went to our local community’s candlelight vigil. We participated in an evening of quiet reflection at an area Quaker meeting. We went back to work.
And then, on September 18, I started to feel really unwell. I called my ob-gyn, and they brought me in to see the doctor. As soon as she came in, she sent me to their high-risk pregnancy unit around the corner, and I started to really worry. I called landisdad while I was on my way there, but he wasn’t able to get there in time. So alone, I had the ultrasound. Alone, I talked to the doctor who told me that our second child wasn’t viable. Alone, I left the doctor’s office, clutching a prescription for pain medication and with stern instructions on how to determine if I needed to go to the emergency room. I was crying the whole way home on the train. I’m not a big crier, and I hate to cry in public. But no one even seemed to notice that I was crying. It felt like the whole world was crying, then.
Have you ever read the poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden? That’s exactly how I felt, in reverse. Instead of the world going dully on, as my tragedy happened, my tragedy moved dully forward while the world was stopped.
It’s hard to tell your almost-two-year-old that she’s not going to be a big sister after all. At one point, during my miscarriage, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t walk, and I was literally crawling around in my bedroom, crying, not just with grief, but due to the pain. I begged landisdad to take the Bee out to play, because I didn’t want her to see me like that. I laid in my bed, and bled, and mourned. I knew that I wouldn’t die, and that the pain I was enduring wasn’t as bad as the pain that I had endured two years before as I labored with the Bee. But that pain ended in a baby. This pain was going to end in nothing—nothing but blood-stained sheets.
And now, every September, when the anniversary of 9/11 rolls around, I have my own private anniversary, too. I’m lucky, because the Bee’s birthday follows quickly after, and I can distract myself, thinking about her party, and what presents to get her, and all of that good stuff. I’m lucky, because I was able to have another child, almost two years after that. But I’ll be thinking tonight of those Londoners, and their survivors, and yes, those other people too. The ones who are having dull tragedies, while their city weeps.