This wasn’t necessarily meant to be a post about 9/11 but after reading these words and realizing it is indeed 9/11 I can’t help but connect the two – and mind you not in a light, frivolous way as if to say one of the worst tragedies to happen in recent history can somehow be superficially wrapped up in a pithy saying. After all, I’m still wrapping my mind around the events of that day. Do you remember what you were doing?
I do, I was in Hawaii on the Island of Lanai with my then boyfriend (now husband) when we were awakened by a 8:00am knock on our door by the hotel staff informing us of the news that “Los Angeles had been attacked and they were very sorry to deliver such news” We turned on the TV in time to see the image of the twin towers up in smoke, but “what happened to LA??” I kept saying – I thought maybe it was so bad they couldn’t even show the damage. Of course we soon learned that New York and DC had been the unfortunate epicenters – and that was horrifying enough.
Our trip to Lanai was my boyfriend’s secret master plan to propose to me. On the morning of September 10th, we started our day together, the ring in his pocket, hope in his heart and a month of arranging for this day, he drove me in an open air jeep to a private white sand beach for a gourmet picnic to ask the question of a lifetime. Just as he was popping the champagne and stretching his hamstrings for his valiant deep knee bend, I abruptly declared it was “time to leave!” as watching the planes fly in the distant sky was stirring some upsetting emotions in me. I shared with him a haunting dream that I’d had the night before, September 9th, that I just couldn’t shake; I was watching planes in the sky turn into rockets, that turned into bombs as they hit buildings – I saw people jumping from a tall skyscraper to save their lives, I heard people’s thoughts, as if they were my own, deciding whether to jump or to wait for help, what to bring, what to leave behind. I saw the people that jumped with sentimental possessions in hand land on clouds and drift away.
When my boyfriend and I returned to the hotel he secretly put the ring in the safe – discouraged and let down after all his months of planning. When we woke the next morning to the knock on our door and turned on the TV- we were stunned and horrified at the devastation, today was 9/11. We ordered room service that night and talked into the wee hours of the morning about how guilty we felt being in paradise when so many people were suffering, what did this mean for the future of our country, our security, the families that lost people they loved, how shattered and vulnerable the Nation was feeling, what could we do to help? With the airports shut down and stranded on this little island – the would-be scene of a sweet proposal was now tucked away in a locked safe in the hotel room closet. My boyfriend was swimming with emotions from the shock of the Twin Tower news and the disappointment of all his perfect plans not working out the way he had hoped.
The following day we resolved to do our best find a way to appreciate the beauty around us – to take a moment and feel grateful for the life we still had and with solemn hearts we spent the day in quiet awareness. That night we gazed at the magnificent blanket of stars over our heads for hours. We spotted a giant shooting star and both made a wish. When I asked him what he wished, he replied that he hoped when he asked me to marry him someday, that I’d say “yes” – then he went up to get the little black jewelry box from the hotel safe and got down on one knee…..I said “yes”.