There are many tragic moments in my history that I remember vividly, down to exactly where I were standing when they happened. 9/11 was one such life-changing experience in my lifetime.
I still remember the events of 9/11 like it was yesterday. Paul and I woke up and were getting ready for work in Houston. For some strange reason I turned on the news as I was waiting for Paul to finish getting ready. I never turned on the TV in the morning and why I did that day is a mystery.
As I was watching, the first horrific videos started coming out and I called Paul into the room. He is a pilot and I asked him how someone could accidentally fly a plane into a huge skyscraper. He told me he just could not understand it, unless it was a major systems failure on the plane. We were both mesmerized by the video feed, when suddenly we saw the second plane hit on live TV. Stunned, we suddenly realized we were late for work and had to leave, not knowing how the events of that day would completely change everything.
As I drove toward Houston I listened to the news on the radio and heard them announce they were grounding all aircraft. More information was coming out that this was not an accident. I was driving through downtown on the Pierce Elevated when I noticed a huge jet flying above me and my first thought was that it was headed directly toward the skyscrapers in my city. I breathed a sigh of relief when it safely passed over downtown to land at Hobby Airport.
When I arrived at work at the University of Houston Optometry school it was surreal. The majority of people were completely oblivious of what was going on and working like it was any other day. A few of us took constant breaks between experiments to watch the news, horrified as the events continued to unravel. Yet so many of my co-workers went on, blissfully unaware that our American way of life was being attacked by brutal terrorists.
9/11 ruined my joy of flying for over a decade, and it really wasn't until we purchased the Gooney that I started enjoying flying once again.
This morning we woke up and talked about what happened 15 years ago with the kids as we do every year on the 9/11 anniversary. Then Paul asked if I was up to flying somewhere for breakfast. I was very reluctant to get in a plane today, but I decided that terrorists win when they make us scared to go on with our normal lives.
Imp wanted to be the co-pilot today, for the first time. It made me so happy to see that both of my kids share Paul's flying passion.
This was also nice because I got to sit with Duke.
It was a beautiful day and the sky and airport were full of small aircraft. I noticed that there were many families like us flying today, enjoying spending time with their loved ones.
It has been a somber day, discussing all of the lives lost and the incredible bravery shown that day by what most people would consider just "normal" Americans. But I realize it is also possible to feel joy on this day. I know this sounds so trite, but I need to take time to count my blessings, and what better way to count them than by spending time with my beloved family and appreciating life.
We will always remember.