That morning at home began much like the delirious days preceding it: a 7:30am awkward and anxious tandem nursing, followed by double baby burping and dual diapering. As a first-time mom, I was adrift in the new-parent paranoia and hyper analysis of every hiccup and twitch -- and yet simultaneously entranced by each finger movement and chest-inflating breath, times two.
In true Elizabeth Kubler-Rossian mode, my embarrassing, sleep-deprived first thought was that surely, the poor pilot must have been killed -- entirely in denial that the hub of American business was undoubtedly populated with unsuspecting workers already seated at their desks for the morning. The commentators were reporting the damage was likely caused by a small plane...perhaps a privately owned Cessna. Never, never did I think for a solitary second the inferno we were all beholding was an intentional impact. An intentional impact. Before that day, unimaginable.
Minutes later, as we watched, the second plane, looking nothing like a Cessna, plowed headlong into the South Tower. From upstairs I screamed, "Honey! Someone needs to call the air traffic controllers in NYC! Somehow they're misdirecting planes into the buildings...another one just hit! Another one just hit!"
Unaffected by the tag team of horror and twin-delivery intensified hormones, and nowhere near as naive as I, my husband knew to come upstairs and explain what was by then terrifyingly obvious to his -- and most other Americans' -- eyes. An attack, here in America.
Chaos and conflicting stories prevailed that morning. Tales of upwards of 50 planes unaccounted for and potentially in enemy hands. White powder delivered to government offices. Estimates of potentially 10,000 dead. Military planes being scrambled. The President was in Florida. The White House and Capitol were being evacuated. A third plane, and the Pentagon -- less than 10 miles away from my childhood home -- was in flames. The hijacked Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania...charred earth the only remnant.
Within hours, New Yorkers rapidly produced flyers with photos of smiling dads, moms, sons and daughters that were hung all over the city. They were held aloft for the television cameras so that someone, anyone, might recognize the person pictured and provide the reassuring news so prayerfully sought. News that with each passing minute was increasingly unlikely to be heard. Hope-fueled optimism reigned - and slowly, against its will, waned -- in the first 24, and 48, then 72 hours. The round-the-clock rescue efforts yielding way too few -- hardly any -- occupants for the recovery areas staffed and waiting nearby.
The most rote of routines became less mundane. 3000+ families started September 11th as if it were any other day. Re-evaluation of even the most miniscule, theretofore taken for granted aspects of day to day life seemed in order. As I dried myself after a shower, newly acquainted with the word "Taliban," I couldn't help but imagine how grateful an Afghani woman might be for my warm, thick towel. Something that could be used for far more virtuous purpose than merely wicking away the moisture from a freshly-clean new mother. An Afghan mother might have nothing in which to swaddle her newborn baby. What if a woman in this horridly repressive culture had twins? How were those women there envisioning our lives? The concept and purpose of a burqua was (and is) difficult for me to understand. In those first days with our new babies, unashamedly, I found myself not only immodestly "uncovered," but frequently bare from the waist up. Did that mean that I, a new mother of beautiful, pure, innocent twins, would be viewed as immoral? Whorish? Incomprehensible beliefs so varied from our own...felt so very passionately, that dispassionately, murderous evil could be enacted under the misguided assignation of martyrdom.