And a memory of 9/11 I never wrote about…
Everyone remembers September 11, 2001. Even after 18 years my recollections of the day can still bring tears to my eyes if I linger on them for more than a few minutes. I have shared bits and pieces of how the day and night unfolded for me…but I have never written down part of the story.
I was working the primetime 4pm-1am shift at the local Fox TV station, and I had been up late the night before. Jeff and I were still very much in mourning for Mom Cutshaw, who had died in June, but trying to resume business as usual, whatever that means after a parent has died. My cousin Alan rang my phone that morning telling me a plane had hit a building very close to where my brother, Reed, worked, and to get up and turn on my TV.
I did, and we all know what unfolded throughout the next hours. More planes crashing, more death. I called my boss, Tom, and told him about Reed, and he asked if I needed to stay home. I said I’d keep him posted. I and my family were fortunate; we only had to wait hours to hear that Reed had gotten out of the city and was safe, at least physically. I know people who didn’t hear about their loved ones for days.
I reported for work, grateful and shaken, to sit behind my console and watch solid, unrelenting coverage of the tragedy…endless replays of the planes crashing, the buildings toppling, people jumping from buildings rather than be burned alive…and commentary from newspeople, pundits, analysts. My friends and TV brothers that afternoon and night in addition to Tom were Larry and Dan. I was so grateful for these “boys” who kept me company, gave me bathroom breaks and propped me up, as I hoped I was able to do for them. We were all overwhelmed, sad, angry, and feeling kind of…lost, I guess. Late in the afternoon, Dan’s sister came by for a quick visit. And she brought her little 3-month-old son, Cameron.
Lord, how I do love to shnoogle me a little teeny one, what we in the South sometimes call an “arm baby”. I asked Meriam if I could hold her little treasure and she obliged with kindness. I held that sweet new life close to me, humming, with leaky eyes and silent prayers…Lord God, what kind of world is this child going to grow up in? Protect him. Protect us all. Lord, I am so sad…
That baby brought healing to me, more than any words of comfort spoken by ministers, vows of justice sworn by our government officials, tributes offered by the rich and famous. That baby was born just before Mom Cutshaw died…just before all those people murdered on 9/11 died. Holding that little, sweet, innocent new life reminded me that life indeed goes on, and that God indeed cares, even when nothing in the world makes sense.
That baby is now 18 years old, old enough to drive a car, vote in elections, serve in our armed forces. And while I have not seen him in the years since I held him that day, I have often prayed for him. I have shared the story of how he blessed and comforted me on a day when all of us were left feeling so very lost. I haven’t seen his Uncle Dan in many years, but I remember him in prayers, too, and their whole family.
I owe them at least that. I owe them a debt of gratitude. Especially that baby I held that day.
(The baby’s hand in this photo does not belong to Cameron, but to my great-nephew Forrest, from a chance I had to hold him when he was an “arm baby”.)