Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 year difference

Two of our little ones were only glimmers then. Juliana nearly 10. Nicolas 3. Joseph 18 mos. I had 3-wk-old Isabela in a snugly and was headed out the back door for a walk on a gorgeous, sunny day. My sister rang and told me to turn on the television instead. It was only a minute after the first plane had struck. Each of us, of course, remembers where we were. What we were doing. I know for certain what none of us was doing. None of us was waiting for an attack, not expecting the grief and mourning that is still the part of so many of our lives today. I feel like I am finally able to admit, perhaps boldly, even though I did not personally suffer tragedy on 9-11, that we all suffered. I was traumatized. I never felt it fair to feel that or certainly not respectful to say so. I still feel so much grief and sadness when I think back to those raw emotions of watching the story play itself out, changing second by second. I was transfixed nearly 24 hours a day with a baby who barely even knew she was out of the womb let alone think it appropriate to ever sleep more than a few hours. So it was myself, Isabela, and the television all night long, so many nights. I would not let go of her. I needed her to need everything from me. And even though the contrast of what I was holding and what I was watching could not have been greater, I am grateful that I was constantly reminded of the Good because of her precious, new innocence. Like a pill I had to take every three hours as I nursed her, to convince myself that there was still enough good, when I think so many of us questioned it. Didn't we? Thank God for good. So much of it all around us. It wasn't long after the tragedy that we gave up cable tv for good.


I piled a load of children into the car for an early pickup on Friday to get everyone + their Greek dancing costumes to the festival in time for their first performance. All of the children took turns explaining the bits of 9-11 history and the heart wrenching stories that were part of their classrooms all day long. And every one of us cried. We shared grief. In small stories, broken and paused with deep breaths and with little sobs. And though no one said so, we all said how much we love each other and how fortunate we are to have one another. We said so with sadness that doesn't belong to us- it is sadness that we are only borrowing from those who truly have suffered, surely they are glad to give up a bit. Acknowledging that hurt in others acknowledges at the same time a fear in each of us, the fear of losing what we love the most- each other.

Watching my children dance the same dances that I grew up performing, those same songs and dances that I know make my father's heart proud and maybe his eyes a little damp, I can't help but feel celebration. Even today. I am thankful for freedom. I am thankful for diversity. I am thankful for peace. I want more of all 3 everywhere.

I celebrate each of us today, and I remember those lost.

Anna Maria

(all photos from the still ongoing Greek Festival here in Nashville)


  1. the Greek festival costumes are amazing !!!

  2. Thanks for posting the photos; hoping to attend next year.

    I was just telling Dad today that it strange that 9/11 is such a part of our lives, yet half of our grandchildren were not born or were just infants on that day.

  3. Very poignant thoughts. even tho' we are so far away geographically, I still remember the numbness and shock when I switched on the news- my friend came into the school playground when we were picking up our kids and said "You must go home and turn on the tv". My baby was only a few months old and I mourned, wondering what kind of world he had been born in to.
    I wish you peace x

  4. Yes, even here in Australia we were affected. I can never forget coming into the kitchen early in the morning, wondering what on earth my husband was doing watching a disaster movie at that hour. We knew that our good friends had a son and daughter-in-law working in New York, so we had many anxious hours waiting to hear that they were OK.

    Yesterday the same good friends came to our home for lunch and advised that their son and daughter-in-law flew to New York with their little daughter to be there with the friends they had kept in touch with, to remember and honour those victims. God bless you all.

  5. I am happy, touched to read your story. I understand the sentiment about feeling traumatized, even though we were not directly hurt. That was a remarkable part, wasn't it... that no matter how remote we were from the devastation we felt connected to it, sharing our grief and anxiety? The world changed in horrible ways, and yet in the midst of it we had our children, our hopes, each other, and in some miraculous way we have found ourselves here today... here to celebrate freedom, diversity, peace, and traditions. Beautiful traditions like these you have brought for us. Peace and love, indeed. Thank you.

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am struggling to put it all into words, having witnessed so many unbelievable things on that day.

    We lived across the river from the WTC in Jersey City. Looking out the window of our apartment the twin towers were the main feature of our view. To see not one, but 2 planes fly directly into them was more than shocking. And then when they crumbled, well....

    We have now put all the heartache behind us and live by the beach in sunny Sydney - Australia with our 2 kiddies. So far away, but our hearts will always be in New York City.

  7. You put into such lovely words what I think so many of us have been feeling today. I too was home with little babies and far away from the actual disaster, but still forever changed by that day. Thank you for this post, it is a blessing.

    And those costumes.....oh my!

  8. Yes, oh yes... thank you.

  9. I know exactly what you mean about not feeling right sharing how the day affected you. I always feel like the events of my day were so trivial in comparison, but I finally decided to publish the events of the day through my eyes today.

  10. Your children look so like you anyway, but your oldest boy - amazing!

  11. beautiful, am. couldn't agree more. thanks for the words.

  12. Alicia10:37 PM

    I am a reader of your blog, but I don't think I've ever commented.

    I agree, that it's a strange thing to grieve over something so geographically distant (I'm in Oregon, and have never even been to New York). But I can't ever forget my dad calling me at 6:10, telling me to turn on the tv, that two planes had crashed into the twin towers. And waves of realization hitting me: how sad . . . wait, two planes--so not an accident . . . it's 9:00 there, so the buildings must've been full of people . . .

  13. Thank you so much for what you wrote.
    I was far away, in BC Canada, but I saw the events unfold live on the internet @ work after a barista at Starbucks told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Ctr and that people were saying it was war. By the time I got to work the 2nd plane had hit and a parent (I worked at a daycare - and was very early to work that day) was waiting outside our building telling me I had to let him in, we needed to see what was happening. I distinctly recall being confused by what I was seeing and when I realized it was people, jumping, I knew nothing would ever be the same. For any of us that witnessed such horror.

    The shock, the fear, the incomprehension and the desperate sadness continued for days,if not weeks -- I distinctly recall being unable to turn of cnn despite the recurring trauma of watching the towers struck and collapse over and over again. I don't remember going to bed, going to work -- I remember talking to total strangers -sharing raw emotion - and watching the news day and night.

    Those endless stretches of Missing Posters made me physically ill.
    The helplessness was overwhelming.

    It seems impossible that it has been 10 yrs. It feels like it only just happened.

    So thank you for sharing with us all. Your feelings, your beautiful children's pictures. For remembering and celebrating everyday life and love and hope.

  14. I know exactly what you mean by, "And even though the contrast of what i was holding and what I was watching could not have been greater, I am grateful that I was constantly reminded of the Good because of her precious new innocence."

    My eldest daughter was two. I remember her standing between me and the television, wanting me to play with her, and one moment I was just weeping, the next, trying to be calm to hold onto some sense of normalcy for her sake. That sort of behavior defined the immediate time after, and then one day, as I sat crying at the dinner table, she climbed into my lap, cupped my wet cheeks in her hands, and said in her sweet little voice, "It'll be okay, Mommy."

    Indeed, thank God for good.

  15. Anonymous1:31 AM

    Beautiful photographs, beautiful post, sad time to remember, we pray for those still affected & grieving especially on sept 11!!!!
    Blessings Karen

  16. I agree the costumes are fabulous! And yes - thank God for good.

  17. The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and
    inspiration, both of which we all need!b Keep 'em coming... you all do
    such a great job at such Concepts... can't tell you how much I, for
    one appreciate all you do!

    Silver Jewelry

  18. Thank you for this, beautiful sentiments x

  19. Oh, but you did suffer personally! We are all one; whether African, British, Iraqi, Irish or American. When good happens to one it happens to all and the same is true for evil. One of my best friends was working above the plane in the north tower as a power broker for Cantor-Fitzgerald. She not only was beautiful in physicality but in spirit as well. Each year when this date of 9/11 comes I am bombarded by images of that day and no matter how I try to stay away from media influence they are ever present - As if I would ever forget what I saw that day.

    And so I remember the good about Stacey. I remember her life; each and every way she cracked me up and how when she fell in love she did so quickly and fully. How she considered her actions with others and was completely aware of the potential of her life. I miss her so much in my life, as so many other Americans miss their friends/lovers/wives/fathers.

    LOVE the costumes. :)

  20. I, too, was holding a baby so closely for exactly the same reasons. I was, and am, so grateful he was there with me during that time.

  21. Anna, loved what you said. Yesterday we had a memorial dedication for a high school classmate lost on that day 10 years ago in New York. Many former grads came together without a lot of planning or being asked. A small park was dedicated in front of the high school. The ties that bind.

  22. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Wise decision to give up cable TV. We never had cable and gave up nearly all TV about 10 years ago.

    Cling to Christ to quell your fears - and teach your children likewise. Evil will persist in this world - but it is neither our home nor our hope.

  23. I, too, was in Nashville that day. I had gone to work as usual to frame pictures and was busily working when our manager brought in a tv and told us to watch. She was already crying and it didn't take long for us to see why. I distincly remember the great feeling of despair and panic, and trying to forcast what the tragedy would mean individually.

    In a way, it totally shaped my adult life. Not long after, I moved back home to Washington state to be near family. Six months later I moved to Alaska where I met my future spouse, an Army man. I myself joined the Army reserves and after training, we got married. Fourty days after our wedding, he deployed to Afghanastan for the first time and I was already preggos with our first son.

    Since that time he has been on 2 other year long deployments, we have 3 boys now, and nearly 8 years of marriage. As a military spouse (not that I am married to the Army, ha!), I feel particularly affected by the day that we woke up to the evil in the world. After September 11, 2001, my decisions were no longer about self satisfaction, but looking towards the greater good of my home, community and country.

    Such a long rant- sorry.

    Loved the festival pictures!

  24. Thanks for sharing those pictures. I danced for over 10 years in an international dancing group. We learned and performed dances from all over the world, including Greece. We each wore costumes from our country of origen and danced at the Greek festival in Tarpon Springs many times. There were four Greek sisters I was very close to who wore costumes just like those. Brings back so many happy memories.

  25. Donna Parker10:29 PM

    Thank you for being an amazing you, and being able to write what you feel and think.

  26. What a beautiful post.

  27. Beautiful!

    Much love~
    Achaia xxx

  28. I attended the Greek festival about 12 years ago when I was in college in Nashville. I still consider N'ville my favored spot to settle down - so much to do and so much to see - if we can ever "finish up" with grad school and for-now jobs here in FL.

    Thanks for the memory of something lovely, especially to combat the sadness of 10 yrs ago.

  29. To your comment " I feel like I am finally able to admit, perhaps boldly, even though I did not personally suffer tragedy on 9-11, that we all suffered. I was traumatized. I never felt it fair to feel that or certainly not respectful to say so."

    Perfectly said. I've been thinking the same thing, especially in the past few days and am glad you put it into perfect words for me.

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  33. So glad to have found you Anna Maria! Your creations are amazing and now I realized that you are from Greece as I stumbled upon the kids costumes!
    Keep up your great work =)
    Greetings from troubled Greece! xoxo