Thursday, September 11, 2008

3 hours and 7 miles



Cross at Ground Zero
New York, NY
©LK Hunsaker



Three hours
sitting outside Washington D.C.
trying to get 7 miles down the road.

Three hours
to sit and reflect and to wonder
if it would be the last 3 hours.

Seven miles
from where the Pentagon smoldered
7 miles from my daughter's school, to home.

Would it be safer on the road
in between there and home
than at home, on the military base
just outside D.C.?

Did we pack up and get out
as soon as we could get there?
Would it matter?

My husband couldn't.
His job was there. Many would be released, I supposed,
allowed to leave and excused for it.
We've never had that option.
At least, not all together.

When the hurricane was due to hit our coastal town,
we stayed, although ordered to go.
Why? Why the risk?
He couldn't go.
His job was to stay. So we stayed, taped, prayed...
and breathed again as it passed.

So we would stay.
That was our life.
We stayed, when others ran.

Separated even then, during those three hours,
he was at work, in Florida supporting the mission.
The cell phone was on, waiting...
Nothing. Only three hours of waiting,
nudging forward, stopping for eternity,
considering ditching the car
and walking.

A child sick in the back seat
and a looming sense of right and wrong
told me we weren't ditching anything.
We were waiting.

And praying
for all those also wondering
and waiting
for the call.

Faces in cars surrounding us
showed fear, distress, sadness
I had small kids.
Fear had to stay smothered. As though they couldn't tell.

Nothing new for us.
Fear was a part of life, the not knowing,
the separations, the moving to unknown places...
it was always there
We learned to manage it.

this was something beyond
what we ever could have believed we would have to manage.

It changed US that day,
some of US forever,
some for a short time as memories faded.

It is now part of who I am...
that 3 hours on the road
the lingering wondering whether to pack and go
wondering if we were still whole
as a family
as a nation.

I won't forget.
I won't forget the three hours.
I won't forget the phone call saying the return flight was delayed,
but still coming.
I won't forget the images we all were given.
I won't forget the image of the military spouse who came in
a few days later, picking up a layaway her husband put in for her...
before he was lost in the Pentagon.
She was going home. Never the same.

I won't forget our temporary pride and quest of justice,
for healing.
With some of US it wasn't temporary.
Some of US know why we're where we are.
We saw too much. We lost too much.
We don't want to go there

1 comment:

TC said...

My son, 15, was watching a collage of Nine-eleven home video on one of the channels last Thursday. I looked in his room and noticed he was riveted to the screen, he saw me and asked, "Why did this happen?" Teenagers still ask innocent questions, and I had no answer.

I cannot even begin to imagine the apprehension and utter shock you must have felt being a military mom.