Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Little Light on a Dark Day

September 11, 2001 - For me the day started like many others. I was flying for United and was on a layover in Chicago. I had to wake up very early that day and had not slept well. I was exhausted and I distinctly remember looking the mirror while I was putting on my mascara and wondering how I was going to get through my long duty day. Chicago-St. Louis, St. Louis-Denver, Denver-SFO (where I was based). I consoled myself by remembering I was scheduled to dead head (ride as a passenger) between St. Louis and Denver, I could catch up on my sleep on that leg. I had no way of knowing how much of my life was going to change on this day.

Colin also started his day in Chicago, where he was based. He worked as a pilot for United. He was scheduled to take the plane from Chicago to St. Louis and then on to Denver. For the first year of our careers at United, we had both been based in Chicago but in all our travels, we had never met.....until September 11th. I was assigned to greet passengers. While waiting for the passengers to board, I checked in with the cockpit crew to see if they wanted anything to drink. I immediately noticed the first officer. I remember thinking, "he's cute" but then reminded myself I had vowed I would never date a pilot (let alone marry one). When Colin requested his third glass of orange juice, I just handed him a carton and said something cheeky like, 'will the carton suffice?' (my version of flirting).

Our plane landed as scheduled in St. Louis. Unbeknownst to us, just as we were touching down, hijacked United Flight #175 had just struck the second tower. We were not aware anything was amiss until we went to flight operations. The t.v. was on and we could not believe what we were seeing. As events continued to unfold, we were transported to a local hotel. While we were checking in, we watched the big screen t.v. that had been moved into the lobby. As I watched the first tower fall, I could not comprehend what I was seeing. I had absurdly come to the conclusion that just the top of the tower had collapsed.

During the days that followed, I saw very little of Colin. He had a cold (hence the multiple requests for orange juice) and although I had the occasional meal with other crew members, he mostly kept to himself. By the third or fourth day, I had cried so much I thought had run out of tears. But after I watched the surreal events unfold, I had this quiet resolution in my mind. I would change careers and I would become a police officer.

In the meantime, my family was desperate to see me. The captain had to rent a car and was going to head home and deal with a family crisis and our crew would now be stranded. My parents lived in Michigan and I decided I would rent a car and drive to see them. I told my plans to the captain and he asked if I would mind taking Colin along with me since Chicago was on the way. The answer was of course, yes, and Colin and I embarked on the 8 hour drive. We talked about everything under the sun and I thought to myself, "I am really having a great time talking to this guy". I was laughing for the first time since that awful morning. As we got closer to Chicago, I found myself driving slower and slower, not wanting the conversation to end. When he got out the car in Chicago, there was an awkward silence. When he did NOT ask for my number, I quickly jotted it down and thrust it at him anyway. (He now swears he had my company file number and had planned on contacting me that way-hmmph....)

Literally, as I walked into my parents house, the phone was ringing and it was Colin calling to see if I had gotten there OK. My Mom says that at that moment, she thought, 'aha, his guy might be something special (she was right).' Several days later, when United was flying again, we met in O'hare, in between our respective flights. When we sat down to talk, Colin asked me if I had any pictures of my horse, Midnight. Now I thought, "aha." A couple of years before I had told my Mom that the right guy for me would be interested in my horse (whom I adored more than any man I had ever met).

Many things followed that 'aha' moment. But here is the short version: In March 2002, I became a police officer in Northern California, Colin continued to fly for United and he transferred to SFO so we could live togther. In May of 2003, my beloved horse of 20 years passed away. Two weeks later, Colin and I embarked on our first adoption, our 6 year old Border Collie, Skye. In July of 2003, after 4 years of working for United, Colin got furloughed (along with thousands of other United employees).

February of 2004, Colin got offered a job in Chicago. We had a dilemna. I told him I would not move to Chicago unless we were married. In March 2004, Colin proposed to me under a ski lift in Lake Tahoe. I said yes (of course). We planned on a summer wedding, but then decided we would get married while Colin was in training in Florida. On April 25th, 2004, on a beach in St. Augustine, with a small group of families and friends (and Skye as our ring bearer), we got married. A better job opportunity arose for Colin and we stayed in the bay area.

Fast forward to the summer of 2004. Colin and I decide we wanted to add a baby to our little family. We talk about adoption first since neither one of us could have imagined loving Midnight or Skye any more than we did, even if we had been their biological parents. However, because I was hitting the far side of 30, we decided we would first try to get pregnant and then adopt a second child. It seems we were not meant to get pregnant and we made the easy decision to adopt. We submitted our paperwork to Accept in April 2005.....and here we are, waiting.

p.s. Mother's are always right. A couple of years before I met Colin, I went a period I like to refer to as the 'will I ever meet the right guy' lament. I call it my lament since my Mother in her infinite wisdom kept telling me I just had not me the right guy. She added that I would probably meet 'the right guy' when I least expected it. Boy was she right! That being said, 9/11 is still an incredibly painful day to think about. On the other hand, I am grateful that I was lucky enough to have met Colin.


At 1:12 PM, Blogger M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

Wow, what an absolutely beautiful story! :-)

Donna sent me your blog and asked that I add you to our group of adoptive parents, so look for an email from me soon. (By the way - we'll have lots to talk about: I grew up with horses, everyone in my family flies, and my husband and I were married on a beach.)

Take care,


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