My Nine-Eleven Story from a Safe Distance

Most people remember where they were and what they were doing when they first got the news of the nine-eleven tragedies. I remember. One hundred fifty miles north of the World Trade Center, I was driving down the highway to train my successor for the job I had quit a month before. I had no replacement job; my new title was Stay-at-Home-Mom. My sons were ten and fifteen.

My New Title: Stay at Home Mom

My new life of hope and promise started when so many others’ lives were shattered. That day made me realize how grateful I was to have woken up to my priorities before it was too late.

I had quit my job because Matthew—my fifteen-year-old— was having a painfully slow recovery from the damage caused by his brain tumor, diagnosed four years earlier. I needed to focus on him, focus on healing our family, and focus on healing myself—physically and emotionally—from the ordeal. My career came last. Or it should have, but it didn’t always. 

My position had been Student Assistance Counselor in a K-5 elementary school. I taught lessons on feelings and problem solving and decision making, and ran support groups for sad or angry or floundering students. I loved the kids, loved the job, but the job didn’t always love me back. Too many needy kids needed me too much. After nine years, it sucked me dry. My sons and my husband got the dregs of my energy and attention, whatever was left after I gave at the office. 

It’s too complicated to explain here how this imbalance happened; someday, you’ll read about it in my memoir. Too many Americans have much harder stories to tell today, and I don’t want to grandstand.

Today, I hope we can remember to focus on our priorities before a crisis or tragedy strikes. And if our world crashes down, literally or figuratively, I hope we find ways to grow as we heal.

Nine-eleven. We will never forget.

It’s a good day to remember. I will.

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  1. Vicki on September 11, 2018 at 3:05 PM

    A day we will always remember.

    • Karen DeBonis on September 11, 2018 at 8:28 PM

      And hopefully the last, for generations to come.

  2. Debbie Kirsch on September 11, 2018 at 6:12 PM

    As you said, we all remember where we were.I was at work (one of YOUR former former job locations) in Troy. A silly thing (now) was in the late morning, the TV & radio broadcasters were saying that all the bridges 0ver the Hudson River were closed, and I wondered how I would get home to Albany. Silly me. Of course, they didn’t mean bridges all the way up here, just around the City. But, it all felt so present to all of us. After the 1st plane hit and they knew it was terrorism, someone brought the big TV on the cart, up to the lobby, and people came from all over campus, to watch. The TV ran non-stop for about 2 days. I saw the 2nd plane hit the Towers, in real time. It was so frightening and sickening.That night, also a Tuesday, was supposed to be the resumption after the Summer, of our folk group/choir rehearsal at church. But people from all over came to church to pray, which we did, instead of rehearsing. It felt somewhat comforting to be together, praying for all the many needs.

    So, I hope we continue to pray, and never forget.

    • Karen DeBonis on September 11, 2018 at 8:30 PM

      I can picture the big TV in the lobby and a big, quiet crowd. And of course you wondered how you would get home – we had no idea what would happen next. When I got home, I called my sister in Chicago to tell her I loved her. New York City, then DC, I figured Chicago could be next.

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