We all have a 9/11 story. We each remember where we were, who told us, our first reaction, and then how we spent the day. I was in my freshman year of college running late to my first class, Intro to Mass Comm. I bolted down the hill I lived on and ran into Professor Cobbey’s class, as she was taking roll. She mentioned that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers, but at that time we didn’t know that it fell or that the second one was hit, or the Pentagon or anything else. We tried to get on The New York Times website but it kept crashing. I don’t remember what we talked about during that class period, I just remember thinking to myself, “is my family ok?” I remember singing my mother’s favorite hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. (I tend to sing that song now when I’m scared.) I remember the whole floor of girls cramming into the lounge watching the news as events unfolded and I remember falling asleep scared of what was going to happen the next day.
But this is not a post on the sadness of that day, it is a reminder that the greatest things in life are clinging to the ones that you love the most and realizing that the littlest things are not worth the biggest battles.
On Saturday, September 8th, I met up with my friend Angela for the day. It was my first weekend away from home at college and Angela lived not too far from downtown Boston. She had asked me what I wanted to do and I told her straight off the bat that I wanted to get my nose pierce. Now, for all you moms out there who are freaking out at the idea of your son or daughter getting a piercing, I had warned my mother for months. I had told her every week that it was something that I wanted and I was going to get one once I was in college. She hated the idea and would tell me, “if you get your nose pierced you are not welcomed anymore”. My mom was an old-school Colombian mom, you were expected to do what you were told until you were married. Plus, she saw piercings, tattoos and even converse sneakers as signs of rebellion. You can say she was a little conservative.
Anyways, Angela and I headed down into the city. We put my name on a wait list, went out to dinner, got called and got the deed done (which hurt like hell) and then headed back to her place since I was still in a lot of pain and recovering from losing a lot of blood (true story). We hung out the next morning, had brunch and she took me back to my campus so I could get ready for the week ahead. My roommates loved it, my friends liked it and overall I was pretty excited that I had gotten it done. Later on that night, I decided to call my mom and tell her the news. I don’t know why I thought she was going to react well, but as you can imagine it went badly.
Badly isn’t really the word for it, it was probably the worst couple of hours of my life. My mom hung up on me and told me not to call her, she would call me when she was ready to talk to me. I decided that I didn’t like that answer and called her incessantly until she answered. She told me she wasn’t going to visit me at school until I got it removed and she didn’t want me to come home for a while since she was so angry that I had defied her even when she told me not to do it. I remember her screaming, “how can you do that? It’s disgusting.” She told me not to talk to her for a few days. I didn’t speak to he the next day, September 10th, and then it was September 11th.
After getting out of Cobbey’s class I started to call home. The problem was cell phone service was down due to everyone checking in with their loved ones. I didn’t get a hold of her until the afternoon and when I did all I said was “I’m sorry and I love you”. She said, “I’m sorry too and I love you. I’m safe and you’re safe and that’s all that matters”. We cried about it and later on that week we slowly started patching things over and a few weeks later I saw my mom when she came to the campus.
Once the rest of the family got wind of what I did, I was told that I was rebelling against my mother and I need to get my act together. She later on defended me saying that my action, never impacted my character or my grades, it was something that I wanted and I did for myself. I was actually the opposite of rebelling by telling my mother upfront that I was doing it and that I informed her once it was done. I showed her respect instead of hiding it from her. It was nice to hear her supporting me about it.
Someone once told me that I probably had the happiest story to come out of 9/11 and hearing that made me cringe a little. I think 9/11 really taught my mother and I that the littlest things that we think are awful, are not things that should separate us. What matters the most in this world is that we love our family and friends and we accept them for who they are. That call of panic that I made on 9/11 was out of desperation to make sure that she was ok, I didn’t care that my mom didn’t want to see me or that she was still mad at me, I just wanted to hear her voice and make sure that she was ok and that she knew how much I loved her. If something had happened to her that day, I didn’t want her to know that the last thing I said to her was out of anger and pain. I wanted her to know that I loved her with every fiber in my heart and that she was an amazing mom. The days after the event, we spoke pretty regularly and we became more honest with one another. It’s sad to say but 9/11 really brought us closer together.
So on the anniversary, all the emotions run through me again of what I felt that day. I feel the fear, the anger, the tears and the horror. Then I think of my mom as well about how much I loved her and how much she loved me and how important it is to hold your family and friends close to you. My thought & prayers go to the ones that lost their loved ones 11 years ago. I’m sorry and I wish I knew the right words to say to you, please know that I pray you receive peace. We are in dire need of peace these days, within us and with each other. I hope we all find that.