Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Memories of 9/11

 The major world event this past week was the death of Queen Elizabeth II of England -- a gracious and faithful lady; we shall not see her like again. I had heard that morning that she was ailing, but her death later that day felt like a true loss. When the official announcement broke, we stopped and said a Hail Mary for the death of the Queen, on the feast of the Birth of Mary, Queen of Heaven.

One of the clips which has been going around in honor of her memory is the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner at the changing of the Cold Stream Guard in front of Buckingham Palace on Sept. 13, 2001, at the request of the Queen. The tears of the assembled crowd, holding American flags, are moving even all these years later.

September 11, 2001 was a day less steeped in horror and anguish for me than for many. On September 10,  age 22, ten weeks newly married, I learned I was five weeks pregnant. I had hoped I would be pregnant. I had been worried, almost unreasonably apprehensive, when I had not been pregnant the month before. After all the hype, after all the cautions one heard in circles which emphasized that the reproductive aspect must not be closed off, and indeed, that Life Finds A Way -- one could have sex in fertile window and not get pregnant? Not theoretically, where of course you know things are not predictable and that you can't order up a baby, but practically, as in I myself, who waited all this time and did not get married in college specifically because I did not want to be pregnant my senior year -- I did not get pregnant at the first opportunity? Was.. was something wrong? 

(Subsequent marital experience would prove this experience to be an anomaly, and these jejeune concerns to be 100% unfounded.)

But on September 10, something was not wrong. Something was gloriously, delightfully, joyfully right, and I was carrying Darwin's baby. We were going to have a child, our child, a blended bit of us in the universe. And was it wrong to hope that it would be a girl?

I called my family in Cincinnati that afternoon to tell them. But we lived in Los Angeles (or rather, the San Fernando Valley, though to a non-native like myself it was all Los Angeles), a short drive from Darwin's family. We would see the very next day, on his parents' 25th anniversary: September 11, 2001. What better present than to tell them that they would be grandparents for the first time? 

The next morning, I slogged into Barnes and Noble at 7 AM. My job was to shelve books in the stacks, an undisturbed, undemanding job that allowed me to think about whatever I wanted. And I wanted to think about Baby. I was thinking about Baby as I rapped on the locked door, and I was thinking about Baby when my co-worker opened it and said, "Terrorists flew a plane into the Twin Towers!"

"Come on, man," I groaned. "It's too early for jokes."

But it was not a joke. 

Los Angeles, always very sure of its stature, was on high alert, certain that it would be the next target. The mall where I worked shut down at 10 AM. Darwin came home early from work. We rarely watched TV, and we didn't turn it on this afternoon. We were going to have a baby, and it absorbed all our thought. 

I have often thanked God for this serendipitous timing. Had we not known we were pregnant, there is a high possibility that in the heat of the first reaction to a devastating terrorist attack on American soil, Darwin might have gone right out and enlisted, and I would have been a military wife. I have nothing but respect for our brave servicemen and the families that support them. I also have no doubt that I, whose primary, overarching love language is Quality Time, would have found this a life full of tensions that would be hard for me to reconcile. I am eternally grateful that Baby came first and spared me that particular test of my character.

That evening, Darwin's parents felt understandably conflicted about going out to a restaurant on a day of national grief. Instead, we went to their house for dinner and announced our news, and in one dining room in the United States, Sept. 11, 2001 was a day of happy memories and hope for the future.


mandamum said...

I love this so much. In so many ways that I find myself dumb in the face of the comment box. Thank you for sharing it.

MrsDarwin said...

Thanks, Mandamum! I'm no great shakes in the comments myself anymore; it seems so much easier to think things than to write them down.