It was 9:30 in the morning, California time. I was doing my usual clean-up after sending our three young children off to school. The oldest was almost 15, the middle one 12, and the youngest just 7.
The new Dachshund puppy needed to go outside, but with hawks around, I needed to go with him.
I called my friend, Stacy, going through a hard divorce. She was crying.
“It will be okay,” I said. “You need to hang in there.”
“Susan, don’t you know what’s happening?” she said. “Turn on the TV.”
I turned on the TV set. There were the Twin Towers in Manhattan, both on fire.
Stacy told me what she knew about the planes flying into the buildings. We chatted for a little while longer, and I said I had to go and take the dog out. No cell phones yet.
I walked around in a daze. Did the kids know? Why hadn’t my husband called?
I spent the rest of the morning doing chores while the TV blared in the background. I even painted the trim on the new 8-foot sliding glass door that replaced the leaky single-pane French doors.
My husband came home at lunch time.
“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked. “You know I don’t watch TV during the day.”
“I didn’t think of it,” he said.
Those five words resonated in my mind for years. I didn’t think of it. The biggest homeland attack in the history of the United States, and my husband didn’t think to call me to tell me about it or to see how I was doing.
The stain guy came to stain the interior side of the new door. He was a sub-contractor of the guy doing the upstairs remodel. He was more willing to talk to me about the attack than the man I’d married.
When the kids got home at their usual time, they were as traumatized as they were old. My high schooler was the most upset, then her brother, and the youngest was oblivious. They sat down and played with the puppy, and I turned off the TV.
The day before, I’d had a meltdown when I came home from taking the puppy to the vet for his puppy shots and found the big dog barking up the huge live oak tree trunk, a man in the limbs above. It seems the neighbor had sent him over to cut limbs off of our tree so she could have a better view of Mount Diablo.
I grabbed the big dog, put her in the house, and ordered the tree trimmer off our property. But the damage had been done. Now I had a view of the junior high school and its blue metal roof.
I stormed outside to see the name on the truck, called the tree company and demanded an explanation. In the end, the company offered to give me a foot of lattice to top the existing fence, for free. It didn’t begin to hide the blue roof, but it was better than nothing, so I said okay.
Looking back, I realize that my ex-husband had probably okayed the tree limb removal but had failed to tell me about it. It’s just like another Saturday afternoon years later, when I came home from my shop and all my climbing roses were lying on the ground. The neighbor had asked to cut them free from the fence so he could paint his side of it. I spent the next hour and half tying the climbing roses back to the fence while my husband sat in the house and stared at his computer. My ex-husband had given him permission without discussing it with me. He never admitted to it, but I figured it out.
911 brings up all these memories, the damage it did to America, and the huge disconnect it revealed within my marriage.