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A Mom Remembers 9/11

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Guest Blogger Dani Klein Modisett: How do you explain what happened to a 5-year-old?

New York City

When I travel with my 5-year-old now, I often become frustrated with all the security checks and say something like, "You know, when I traveled for work years ago, it was never like this." Then he usually asks me why it's different now. So far, all I've said is, "Some bad people did something that made us all afraid, so airlines have to be extra careful," or some variation on that sentence.

The anniversary of this tragedy is here again--and I will be somber tomorrow. I will be sad for the physical loss of the New York City landscape, the senseless deaths and the loss of innocence for all of us. Now that I have children, my feelings are underscored by the fact that our collective innocence as a nation is something they will never know.

I woke up in a Motel 6 in South Dakota seven years ago. I was working on the road with another comic named Penelope in a two- person show I had written;  it was a college tour. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I went downstairs early to cash a paycheck from a previous show so I could pay Penelope.  

I noticed a horror movie playing in the lobby on my way out where buildings were being blown up and what looked like bodies were flying out of them. I couldn't imagine who thought this was good breakfast entertainment--and looked back at the TV screen a second time to see what film it was. The chyron "World Trade Center" came up. I had never seen a horror movie where the World Trade Center had been bombed.

Then I realized it wasn't a movie.

My mother lived on 49th and 1st Avenue in New York City at the time. She had already called my fiancĂ© in LA to tell him whoever it was that did this was heading for Los Angeles. He was asleep and had no idea what she was talking about.

Then he turned on the television.

None of us knew what to do. We were spread all over the country, all equally paralyzed by fear.

On the seventh anniversary of this day, I am reminded of that. I am reminded of the feeling of utter powerlessness. I am reminded to be grateful that--for today--we are all safe. I am also reminded of the courage, bravery, and generosity of the people who helped--or even just tried to help--those who needed it most.

I am going to think about this the next time we pull my son's baby brother out of his stroller to be scanned at the airport.

"How come you're not upset this time, Mommy?" he'll ask, surprised by my calm.

"Because, honey, this is what we do to honor the people who work hard to help us feel better after a very scary time."

September 11 Attack
Remembering 9/11
Dani Klein ModisettDani Klein Modisett is the mother of 1-year-old Gideon (pictured) and 5-year-old Gabriel. She is the comedy writer/creator/producer of the show "Afterbirth...stories you won't read in Parents magazine." An anthology of stories from this show will be published by St. Martin's Press, in stores in May 2009.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 10, 2008, 5:57 PM


Jason Goldtrap September 11, 2008, 7:24 AM

Beautiful story. Tell him, “Bad people do bad things. When you’re a man, part of your responsibility will be to stop them.”

If you can read this post, thank a soldier.

Anonymous September 11, 2008, 12:57 PM

Tell him the truth.

Anonymous  September 12, 2008, 8:01 PM

My husband and I took a road trip out east this summer and on the way back to Indiana we stopped at the Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania. It was a somber ending to our vacation. What a lonely place it is. We were so glad we went though. These people were heros that day and they will be respected by us forever. We will not forget. But we should never be letting our guard down when it comes to security in the air or anywhere again. It is a different world out there. We can only imagine a world without terrorists.

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