We're hurting, but we'll heal

Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2001

It happened a month ago. Those unimaginable terroristic acts.

I watched over and over again in horror as history changed, ingraining in my brain images I will never forget. I sat glued to the television every chance I got and absorbed every detail, dissected every piece of information.

How could this happen?

I felt shock, disbelief, ill. As time went on, I became angry. I felt violated. We were violated.

We were told to get on with our lives, to get back to normalcy.

Most people went on. I went to work.

Being a journalist is sometimes an uneasy position to be in. Basically, news happens and we tell it. However, it's difficult when our emotions are screaming at us and, at the same time, this news, this horrendous, despicable tragedy, is the kind of event we thrive on.

It's a Catch-22.

I'm trying to get back into a normal routine, but my life will never be normal again. None of our lives will ever be normal again. One day in our lives changed all of that.

Although I'm not glued to the TV as much anymore, I still watch the news more than I used to. I turn it on first thing in the morning to make sure all is "right" with the world -- buildings still stand, planes still fly. But my life has been changed.

At work, I sit by the window. I watch the planes as they take off and land. The activity seems to have increased, I think -- or did I just not notice before?

I check the news on The Associated Press wire more often now, looking for news alerts, wondering what's going to happen next.

I pay more attention to the police scanner above my desk. Could something happen here?

My senses are piqued -- perhaps too much. But I have my reasons.

As if the emotion of the tragedy alone wasn't enough, I'm also the daughter of a police chief.

At a young age, the consequences of what my father did for a living hit me like a slap in the face when I stumbled upon his gun the first time. I knew my father was living dangerously, and I worried that one day he would have to use that weapon to protect his life. Unfortunately, on Sept. 11, no gun could have stopped this enemy.

I'm thankful I can say my father is "retired." There are many daughters in New York who now fumble for the words to say "my father was killed in the line of duty."

I have another reason.

The stories of the courageous firefighters who raced toward danger is one that will be retold many times. I cannot hear them and hold back the tears.

My husband, Mark, is a firefighter. He is a courageous man.

When he told me he wanted to be a firefighter, I thought it was cute -- a childhood dream.

But he had a determination I hadn't seen in him before. He has worked so hard to become the best firefighter he can be, and I believe he is.

He will tell you he isn't.

When the news of all those lost lives spread, the brotherhood of firefighters suffered a great loss. But it never crumbled; it stood taller and prouder than ever.

I cannot tell you the number of tears I have shed over those deaths; they touched me deep in my heart. They affected all of us.

Whenever Mark and I separate, we say our "I love yous," but I never let him out of my sight without one more thing.

"Be careful," I always say.

"I'm always careful," he'll say with a smile.

I can't help but wonder how many wives said that to their husbands that dreadful day.

No, our lives will never be the same.

Osama bin Laden may have succeeded in making us more fearful for the moment, but our country has been there before. We are a strong people and growing stronger, thanks to him.

We will heal.

The other day Mark asked me, "Do you know what the No. 1 selling Halloween costume is this year?"

I had no idea.

"A firefighter," he said proudly.

I think America is going to be OK.

Dori Lynn Anderson is the features and copy editor for the Peninsula Clarion.

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