Back in 2001, my family was having problems. My grandfather was battling his last battle with cancer. We all knew it. He knew it. Chemo had been discouraged, though not nearly sternly enough. He still wanted to fight to the last. The chemo was too strong for him, but instead of telling him 'I'm sorry, Mr.Howard, the cure is worse than the disease, enjoy your time left with your family' the doctors just gave him a half dose. His last months were painful for everyone. He struggled for everything, and we all fought to help him. My husband had proposed the Christmas before, and when I saw how my strong, strong grandfather (who in my eyes had never lost to anyone, or anything) was losing his fight, I asked my then fiancee if we could move our wedding up so my grandfather could be around to see us, or at least know we were married. He loved my grampa, and grampa loved him, so he agreed. We rushed the plans for our wedding, and we nearly missed it anyhow when Grampa had a very near miss with death a month before the wedding. But, he hung on. We got married away from home, I knew deep down, that even if we'd been married in town, Grampa could not have gone. He was bedridden by that point. When we got back, he was still himself, though weak. We wore our wedding clothes for him, and I swear, I have never seen such a smile. He was proud of me & my hubby. But it was so bittersweet. He passed away not quite a week after we were married. But I can always know that he knew, and he approved. And that means the world.
I was still deeply grieveing for my grandfather when I went into work that day. I was working at a pet store, and Grampa was always heavily on my mind. I was in the bird room when my boss started shouting from upstairs. I couldn't understand her from the noise in the room, and my little friend, DJ laughing in my ear. I walked out, DJ still on my shoulder. She told me to come look at the news. The two of us stood there in shock. Tears starting to stream down both of our faces. I was the one that broke it up. After all, they were in New York, and here we were, the animals still needed to be looked after. I still popped in from time to time to hear the news. I was still there when the second plane hit. We were horrified. Only DJ seemed to not notice. chewing on my hair, pulling on my collar. By this time, I was numb. I mumbled something about Bin Laden. (I still remembered some of the names that Clinton had let free. I was sure it was him, though I could not remember all of his name. I wish I could forget it now.)
Somewhere along the way, the chores at the shop got done. I was only supposed to help open up, then I was gone. I cried all the way home, wondering what my Grandfather, who had lied about his age to join the navy after Pearl Harbor, would have thought about this.
A tiny part of me was glad that he didn't live to see New York and the Pentagon attacked. He would have been incensed, angry, and mournful, just like all of us were.
I was grateful that I didn't know of anyone in New York at the time, or if I did, I didn't know they were there.
My heart was crushed when the first tower fell. I can't even begin to explain it. But, I don't have to. Any American with a soul felt the same way. The sorrow of the innocent lives lost. The pride for the brave souls on Flight 93.
The belief in my heart that more people on the plane could have fought back, but were in too much fear or shock to believe what was happening.
I still remember some of the numbers that the reporters were spouting off - their estimates of the dead and dying far outstipped what was found. I still don't trust the reporters at NBC. They seemed the most .... thrilled at this tragedy. The one that seemed the most enthralled was Lester Holt. I liked him before. But he had this manic look in his eyes that I will never forget or get over. Does anyone else remember that look? Lauer looked scared. So did most of the others, but Holt - wow. I can't even describe it. I know I watched every other newscast that day, but that one reporter. I can't even begin.
And here we are. 8 years later. I still live in the same place. I am still married to the same man. We still help my Grandmother, even though my parents are now with her. But, we have a 7 year old son, and a 7 month old son. We lost a baby between the two, but we still had each other, and our son. The wise wise wise little man.
I still think of Grampa every day. However, I now think of every patriot that has defended our country and our way of life. Every Day. Thank you for your sacrifices. You are appreciated. You are remembered. And, you are loved, by many that you do not, and may never know. Thank you.
And, that little weasel hiding in the mountains - we haven't forgotten you either. Though our administration may be a little lax right now, does not mean that you're off the hook. We're going to get you sooner or later. Sooner would be better, but better later than never.