In October of 2001 I met a woman named Sue.
People were still talking about where they were,
how they were impacted by the events of 9/11.
Sue has two daughters she raised alone.
Her first husband died during her second pregnancy, leaving her with two children under the age of three.
Her "girls" are now smart accomplished women.
They grew up, moved out of the nest, away from Mom but still close. Sue married husband number two in 1999 and moved with him to our region in 2000.
On 9/11 she was home alone. She had slept in and was having her first cup of coffee of the day when her sister called to ask if she had heard from the girls.
That is when Sue became terrorized.
Her older daughter worked in finance in the
World Trade Center, the other daughter worked in
the Pentagon. Sue could reach neither child.
Her description of her day still haunts me.
Both of her daughters are fine.
The financier had gone into work early to prep for a meeting.
Once her preparations were complete she took an elevator to the ground floor to treat herself to a latte.
It saved her life.
The military contracts daughter was late to work, caught in traffic and was just coming
through the Pentagon check point when the plane hit.
Her tardiness saved her life.
But every year when all the media forms are using the term "terrorist attack" I think of Sue.
Sue's story is, for me, the explanation for the term "terrorism".
Her first post 9/11 action was to take an overnight train to Washington to hug her youngest, then together they went to New York to hug the elder daughter. Sue's telling of this day made me sob. It still does.
And yet, this is a family in tact.
A family who did not lose a love to the attacks.
They were subjected to the torture of terror. It drives home the message of the possibility of random, senseless, non specific destruction of our very personal lives at the hands of the unknown and deranged. There is no logic, no protection, no plan of action to thwart the unthwartable.
No other attacks are actually necessary. Because the terror remains in us all.
Yes we have all straightened our spines, squared our shoulders and soldiered onward.
We have sworn to not cower to the unknown and to keep our values strong.
We have communally declined to be terrorized.
We have rejected their insidious fear mongering.
Lurking behind all of this there is the knowing.
I loathe this reality.