I was working as a temporary employee at an insurance company that day. I was trying to make my mark by out-performing everybody else so that hopefully I would get hired permanently. I had just moved to Maine from Connecticut to be closer to my family. After a year and a half of looking, I took the insurance company job just so that I could finally get to Maine.
On that morning, I was working away at a million miles an hour. It was 10:00 or 10:30 before I even realized what had happened because my face was buried in my computer screen. When I went downstairs for a break I noticed that everybody was in the computer room around a large television screen. There had to be several dozen people from my small office in that room. The horror that unfolded was followed by tears of disbelief. An announcement came over the P.A. system of our building saying that if we felt the need to leave and go be with our families that we could do that. I went back to my desk to work.
There was a woman down the hall whose son worked in WTC One. It was a few days later before we found out he was not in the tower that day but for those first few hours and days it was very difficult. I went home, listening to AM Radio for the entire 45 minute trip; and then sat in my house that day glued to the TV.
It was my birthday, that day. My best friend called and asked if I wanted to go to dinner. She is a hair stylist and the salon where she worked knew little to nothing about what was going on at that time of the day. They were busy too, doing their work, trying to make their clients pretty.
When I explained to her everything that was going on, she understood why I did not want to go out to dinner that day. She was then in shock and called me several times to compare notes since the salon had turned on the small TV they had. I didn’t want to go to dinner that day, the next day, or the next week. It took me a while to realize it but from that moment on the morning of September 11, 2001, my birthday would forever become meaningless; it would always be “September 11th”
I am not a person that celebrates Christmas, or Valentines Day, or Easter, or any other Hallmark, obligatory holiday. I always thought that somebody’s birthday was really special because it is just about them. In my whole life I never had a birthday party. As a kid I was the youngest of 6. So in our family we were allowed to have our favorite dinner. And, there was the obligatory birthday cake and a few presents from the family right after we finished eating and it all took place at the dinner table in record time because people had things to do. So when 9/11 happened, I was 37 years old and had never had a birthday party; a real birthday party where I was surprised and surrounded by friends. I knew from that point forward I would never have a party for my birthday. Who is going to give someone a birthday party on September 11th. I don’t even want a birthday party on September 11th.
That sounds selfish and self-centered but think about it. For someone who never had a birthday party and has waited all their life for one, probably shouldn’t expect one if your birthday is on September 11th. I have found out about a lot of people whose birthday is September 11th. It seems like once a week I have to show my license of someone asks me my birthday and the response is always the same: “Oh gee, your birthday is 9/11? That’s too bad, huh?”. It just never goes away.
I don’t make it about me. I spend my birthday by myself, reflecting about that day. I cried for days after it happened. I had very, very good friends of mine who worked for all different airlines. It took me days to figure out if they were OK. Luckily they were. But I remember the terror. I remember not sleeping; not able to get those visions out of my head. The remembrance memorials need to happen but they are two sided in the way we honor people, and then the terrible memories they all bring back.
I don’t ever want anybody to forget that day. I’ve thought about moving my birthday to September 15, or something like that, but when I really think about it I just can’t. That is my birthday. Someday I will figure out a way to live with September 11, 2001 and September 11, 1964 at the same time. Until then, it is a solemn day that my friends and family need to understand is a difficult day for me and I may want to put off that dinner until tomorrow or the next day. You can’t force someone to celebrate.
My thoughts today are with the families and loved ones of all the people affected by the events of 9/11. Maybe someday, we will get our revenge against those who did it. I don’t believe until that day, that 9/11 will ever be a day of healing and until that day, it will never really be my birthday. And to my brethren with 9/11 birthdays, my best to you on however you choose to deal with it.