There are moments that are indelibly burned in my memories. They are the moments that forever changed my life or changed the way I look at the world. The clearest and most significant is the night Jason died. That night was incredibly traumatic and has affected me – and continues to affect me – in ways I never could have imagined. Second clearest is 9/11/01. It shattered my sense of security as an American. Third is the day JFK was shot, although I was only eight years old at the time. It shattered my sense of innocence. I still remember watching my elementary school teachers cry.
On the morning of 9/11, my sister called from Tulsa to tell me to turn on the TV. The first plane hit the North tower at 8:46 a.m. ET (5:46 a.m. Washington State time) and the second plane hit the South tower at 9:02 a.m. ET (6:02 a.m. Washington State time). I turned on the TV just a few minutes before the South tower fell. It was all too horrifying to believe.
Jason had gone to California with two friends on a road trip before starting school that year. They had planned to go to Disneyland that day sixteen years ago, but, of course, their plans changed. He called me mid-morning to check in. He just needed to hear my voice. As with most Americans, the attack shook all of us to the core. It was a time for needing to reach out to those you love and to hold them close, and I was so glad he had called. I hadn’t been able to reach him – pre-cell phone days, you know. I just wanted to be able to hug him tight and to make sure he was all right.
When Jason came back from California, he told me that he was seriously considering joining one of the branches of the armed forces. He wanted to fight the terrorists that had attacked America. Hearing that terrified me, although I didn’t voice my fears. He always had a strong sense of right and wrong and had a strong sense of loyalty to those he loved. He wanted to protect those he loved. I knew there would be a very real possibility that he wouldn’t return if he joined the armed forces and I couldn’t imagine the possibility of losing a child. School started the week after he returned. Jason got busy with school and he didn’t join.
Little did I know at the time that, just less than six months later, he would be gone. Oh, how I miss my boy.
Today – this day sixteen years later – it breaks my heart too much to watch the ceremonies commemorating those who died that day. I can’t watch them. My heart goes out to their families, because I truly understand the hole left in their lives by the death of their loved ones. I understand that those spaces can never be filled and that the pain never truly goes away. I understand the agony of celebrating birthdays, holidays, life events and anniversaries without those we love. Although Jason’s death did not affect our entire country as the deaths of those on 9/11 and the symbolic terror attack on America they represent, I would venture to say that his death was just as traumatic to me, to our family, and to those who knew and loved him. Loss is loss, and deep grief is deep grief.
May God have mercy on us all and give us comfort in our losses.
© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney