Ten Years Later
When the first plane slammed into the World Trade Centre, I was asleep. Alice was only a few weeks old, and I was in the zombie-like, sleep-deprived state of most new parents. In my case, this was compounded by the fact that Alice and I took a long time to figure out how breast-feeding worked - so she was permanently hungry and cross, and I was permanently stressed and anxious. The only good rest I was guaranteed was the first, deep, dark sleep of early evening, after the nine o'clock feed.
So when it all began, I was well and truly out of it. Michael came rushing into the bedroom to wake me. "Something's happening," he said. Something about a plane -- New York -- the Pentagon -- a skyscraper on fire. It seemed like a dream, I couldn't take it in. Drugged with exhaustion, I blinked at him blearily, rolled over and sank back into sleep.
But when Alice woke for her two am feed, it was still going on. Chilled, I listened to the panic, the terror, the confusion, echoing from the radio. I still didn't understand, but I picked up my baby and held her, there in the darkness. I held her close, too numbed to cry.
I had to leave the room last night, when the memorial shows came on TV. Just like ten years ago, I kissed my precious children, and I went to bed. But I did hear a little from the families of those who died that day. There didn't seem to be any hatred, or panic, or thirst for revenge -- just a terrible, aching sadness for those they lost, and a strong and steely love for those who remain.
Perhaps that will be the ultimate legacy of 9/11. Perhaps one day, the memory of the politics and war-games and acts of violence in the name of God will fade away completely. And we'll be left with a reminder -- because we seem to need so many reminders -- that life is precious, and life is short, and not one of us knows when the end will come, hurtling from an empty sky.