Gabriel left the front door wide open instead of his usual “SLAM!”, trudged into the kitchen and slumped into my lap.

“They talked about something at school today. Airplanes crashing into buildings and stuff.” He nuzzled his head against my shoulder.

“Ah, sweetie,” I pushed his white hair out of his eyes, “it’s the anniversary of Sept 11th. That happened just before you were born.”

“You mean it was a long time ago? It’s all over now?”


Just the other day I met a mother with a child Gabriel’s age, “So you were pregnant on Sept. 11th too.” she noted. We talked about the kinship we felt with the pregnant wives of the 9/11 victims, of our fear of bringing a new baby into such an uncertain world, of the recurring nightmares of our husbands dying before the baby was born. My doctor induced my labor 2 weeks early because we were all afraid that terrorists would attack Salt Lake City during the Olympic Games making hospital access impossible.

It’s hard to explain to Gabe that these events before his birth are part of his story. Of everyone’s story. I pulled up footage of the day on and we watched the planes crash into the Trade Center and the firemen weeping in the streets. Gabe blinked and buried his face in my shoulder, “I don’t want to see anymore.”

Maybe it seems cruel, to show him those things. But he’s at the right age to know. And I was grateful that he could see the difference between the spectacular explosions in his beloved Star Wars movies and the real heartbreaking destruction of human lives when the towers collapsed.

I tried to describe to him the way we felt after Sept. 11th. The hours we spent watching television coverage, the joy we felt in stories of survivors and the way people changed. We all loved each other more and clung to friends and family and offered kindness to strangers.

My nightmares continued through my pregnancy with Mary. And then I heard of Brenda— her divorce, remarriage and her new husband’s murder 11 days before their son was born– I expected anger, slumped shoulders, a face lined with bitterness. Instead, I met laughter, enthusiasm and a quick wit. I can search Brenda’s face and see what she’s lost but it only gives her the determination to enjoy every bit of good that comes her way.

She sees life more clearly than most of us; she sees joy.

And so today, I gathered 5 kids and visited the new baby elephant at the zoo. Our zoo has been spoiled this year with a baby giraffe, 3 tiger cubs, a snow leopard, dozens of new monkeys and the first elephant ever born on Utah soil. Young mothers with round expectant bellies crowded the viewing pavilion with their toddlers as we all oohed and aahed at the tiny elephant.

Sept 11th isn’t over. It’s still giving us eyes to see.

yes, I do take cell phone photos just like normal people

September 14, 2009



  1. stace

    September 12, 2009

    I think you are yet to write a post that doesn’t make me tear up.

  2. Selwyn

    September 12, 2009

    I was also pregnant on Sept 11 – and I was working on a Defence base. It was one of the craziest days of my life. The impact really was felt (and is still felt) worldwide.

    Yay for baby elephants!

  3. Tracy

    September 12, 2009

    Adorable baby elephant and oh, your sweet, sweet boy…

  4. jennie w.

    September 12, 2009

    You’re such a kind mother.

  5. martha corinna

    September 12, 2009

    We have to go see the baby elephant.

    Sorry, it’s been hard here, Norah is still really sick; throwing up for 2 weeks now. We’ve been back and forth to the doctor and hospital and we still know nothing. It is probably some excruciatingly long winded bug because I picked it up and have had it for 4 days. Anyway, I hope we really can get together soon.

    My husband and I were on mules back packing in Yellow Stone’s back country from Monday Sept. 10th until the 14th, so we knew nothing about the 11th until days later. It was kind of like visiting as an alien because I didn’t live through it really. I of course felt the delayed tragedy and sadness, but completely missed out on the fear. It’s always educational to hear another’s thoughts and account.

  6. m_and_m

    September 13, 2009

    I was pregnant, too…and just wrote about some of the same things!

    (Fun way to spend the day in 2009.)

  7. Jennk

    September 13, 2009

    I’m constantly learning how to be a better parent and person from you. Your children are lucky to have a thoughtful, wonderful mother. Another moving post. Thank you.

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