Today, I'm years away from the tragedy and thousand of miles away on the opposite coast, but as we all do, I remember every single moment of that day.
I remember the terror. I remember the heartache. I remember the fear. I remember the feeling of being only hours from the tragedy, the automatic denial that this could be happening in my home state.
Thousands of lives were lost that day. So many names. Each name was someone who mattered to someone else. Each life extinguished on 9-11 was some mother's child.
Every number was a real person.
It was too much to fathom. I could not bear to hold all the pain I was seeing.
So in the days that followed, I clung to one name. One person became my touchstone for all the grief and sadness and heartache. In a blinding sea of names, in a whirl of grief too large to manage, I held tightly to just one.
She was the youngest victim, on a plane with her parents and bound to visit her mother's parents in California. While there, they were going to go to Disneyland and meet Mickey. But they never made it.
Christine became the person on whom I centered my own grief in the days after the tragedy.
She was only two and a half years old.
I thought of her again last year, when they had the ceremonies for the ten year anniversary. Her name came up in one, and hearing it, I was immediately brought back to that consuming pain when I first clung to her name and found a single person to mourn in the overwhelming grief.
Last year, when we went to Disneyland, my own daughter had just turned two years old. It was shortly after 9-11, and so I thought again of Christine. I thought of how she would have been there, experiencing everything Paityn was, had not evil intervened and robbed her of her life. I thought of her parents and all they must have wished for her. All the dreams they must have had for their daughter's life. And how they must have clung together in those final moments.
I looked at my own baby girl, the same age that Christine had been, and I soaked in that moment in time, knowing that every future moment is not a promise and carries no guarantees.
At the end of this week, we are leaving for Disneyland. When we are there, I know I will again think of Christine. I will mourn her young life, a shining light that was put out too soon.
In a sea of names, I cling to hers again today. Christine, I remember you.
If you are here for my SITS day, I do have a post here for you to "meet me." But today is a special day, and I could not let it pass without honoring those we lost eleven years ago on this day. And remembering Christine...