Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2001

It is hard to believe that 5 years have passed since that awful day. On September 11, 2001, I watched the TV coverage almost non-stop for 2 days, I hardly slept or ate. In the years that have followed, I have studiously avoided any coverage related to 9/11, it was simply too painful. Yet, for some reason, the other day, I felt compelled to watch some of the documentaries. I was startled by how much I remembered and how watching the footage felt like being transported back in time. I shed a lot of tears. When I could watch no longer, I checked on Sophia before going to bed. As I stared at her little sleeping form, I was jolted by the thought that she was in our lives as a in-direct result of the events of 9/11.

There was a wonderful line in the movie "Grand Canyon." One of the main characters muses that everything good and bad in the world are sometimes so close together. I have never forgotten that line and it seems to apply to us when I think of 9/11 and its impact on our family.

I wrote the following a year ago when I started this blog. It helps to explain how, for us, the good and bad were so very close that day.

September 11, 2001 - For me the day started like many others. At the time, I was flying for United and was on a layover in Chicago. My report time was very early that day and I had not slept well. When my alarm went off, I rolled out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. I was exhausted and 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. I consoled myself by remembering I was scheduled to dead head (ride as a passenger) between St. Louis and Denver, I would catch up on my sleep on that leg. I had no way of knowing how much of my life was going to change on that day and how truly long it was going to be.

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 two years 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 because our captain had the foresight to realize there would be no more flying that day. 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. At first, 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, Colin mostly kept to himself. By the third or fourth day, I had cried so much I had run out of tears. But after watching the surreal events unfold, I had this quiet resolution in my mind, I needed a job that was more meaningful. That thought would evolve into me becoming a police officer mere months later.

In the meantime, my family was desperate to see me. The captain needed to return to his home in Texas to deal with a family crisis. He rented a car and prepared to leave. With his departure, our crew would now be stranded. My parents lived in Michigan, so I decided to rent a car and make the drive to see them. By chance, I saw the captain in the lobby as he was checking out. I told him my plans and he asked if I would mind taking Colin along with me since Chicago was on the way. The answer, of course, was 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 together. 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 dilemma. 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 decided we wanted to add a child to our little family. We talked 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................

Updated, September 11, 2006. We are the proud parents of wonderful and beautiful, Sophia Mingci. We are incredibly happy that she is in our family and has added so much to our lives. That being said, 9/11 is still an incredibly painful day to think about. And yet, it was also a pivotal day in our lives, and for that, we are grateful for the small amount of good that came of it. It's true, sometimes good, and bad, are quite close together.

***In memory of everyone who lost their lives on 09/11/2001 and to the families and friends who lost their loved ones.


At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Katie said...

Hi, I've come across your blog every now and then and have never commented yet. I just wanted to say that was a beautiful story and it brought tears to my eyes, as 9/11 was a painful day for everyone, but this just shows that some good comes out of even the most tragic situations. Thank you for sharing that wonderful story and making me think a little bit more.

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Katie said...

Hi, I've come across your blog every now and then and have never commented yet. I just wanted to say that was a beautiful story and it brought tears to my eyes, as 9/11 was a painful day for everyone, but this just shows that some good comes out of even the most tragic situations. Thank you for sharing that wonderful story and making me think a little bit more.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Samantha said...

What a great story! I told my husband under no circumstances could I watch the documentary on last night. He put it on, I bawled and also realized that was the day I looked at the home we are in now. Because I had this new home with a broken light fixture I met my husband 2 months after Sept 11th. I think it is an unforgettable day that along with the sadness brought many many people together!

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Marcia said...


I've been a longtime lurker so far, but just wanted to tell you how much I like your blog and what an amazing meant-to-be experience you had.

As an ex-NYer living in LA, 9/11 will be painfully seared into my being forever. It also was the reason both my husband & I adopted. For years, we were DINKs (double income, no kids), with no plans ever of changing the status quo. 9/11 made us re-examine our lives and show us how important family was afterall. Being in our early 40s, adoption was an easy and 1st choice for us. Our daughter just turned 4 and we've been back from China almost 3 years. To say she's the most important thing in our lives is an understatement. I can't imagine my days without her.

(BTW, we're from your same agency — that's how I originally got this link.)

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:58 AM, Blogger Jenny said...

Kat- It is hard to celebrate a day that the world mourns. I can tell there is "bitter and sweet" in your story. I too saw "miracles in the madness" when my brother was killed in an auto accident. Even though it was a tragic time in my life I could still see the blessings that God had granted us during that time! I love your post and I want to send a happy anniversary wish to you and Colin. ( meeting each other-anniversary- of course) Everyone has a story and this story is proof that as lives were being taken and families were being torn apart- somewhere else people were being thrust together and new families were being created! Beautiful stuff!
Jenny V

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Gracencameronsmomy said...

What the hell anonymous?? Get a life!

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Donna said...

The anonymous coward who commented above doesn't deserve a response but I'll attempt to enlighten him/her with a few facts.

1. It's okay to not wear black on 9/11. Babies were born on 9/11 (it's my birthday). People got married on that day. Some people got out of the twin towers alive. It was a day of horror and tragedy for many people but it brought lots of good people together too.

2. The adoption tax credit is the same for a US born baby (crack addicted or otherwise) as it is for a Chinese orphan. But most people don't adopt for the tax credit.
They adopt because they want a child.

If you really wear a uniform, you're part of a team and should be proud to show your face and list your name like Kat and Colin have. If you don't do this, you don't believe in your own words and you're just looking for a quarrel.

Former military and commercial pilot
Former deputy sheriff
Army veteran
Proud adoptive parent

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Gracencameronsmomy said...

Go Donna! Much better than what I said!!

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Kimber and Chris said...

I appreciate your heart-
thank you for sharing...
You know our story already.
PS well said Donna


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