History

I was born (in the UK) a few days before the Israeli six-day war broke out and my mother was born (in London) a few days after the retreat from Dunkirk. So we’ve got a bit of history, in our family. 

Chatterboy was born here in Australia on September 13, 2001. Although it didn’t feel as if I was threatened, here at the other end of the world, the similarities of the lives of those who perished with my own life made it terrifying nonetheless. And it gave me a small insight into what having a child just then must have been like for my grandmother. She was bringing her first child into the world  in a country that was genuinely expecting invasion any moment.

For us, here in Australia, September 11 happened at around 11pm, so September  13th was almost like the next day for us.

I watched the documentary Falling Man last night, about trying to identify the person in a famous picture of one of the “jumpers” as they were called – those who decided to jump, rather than perish in the flames. That picture was the front page of one of the three September 13th newspapers I bought for Chatterboy to have when he is older.

As well as reminding me about the impossible choices people faced that day, that picture also brings back to me those first few days of motherhood, trying to get to grips with feeding and comforting a new baby, at the same time as being glued to the television compulsively and wondering how much the world had suddenly changed.

  3 comments for “History

  1. September 6, 2006 at 8:03 am

    I remember that time so clearly. We didn’t have a television back then. I remember going to the cornershop on September 12th to buy newspapers and feeling as if the sky might crash down.

    When a baby is born, events and moments stand out so clearly in your mind. Mine was born at an uneventful time in the world but his birth was so calamitous that afterwards I was shocked to see brilliant sunshine through the window and people walking through the car park. I blinked at them, thinking: “Don’t they realise the world has changed?”

  2. September 6, 2006 at 10:26 am

    Interesting story. I had sort of the opposite experience–a miscarriage a week after Sept. 11. It’s odd to have private misery in the middle of global tragedy. On the other hand, no one looked twice if I was crying on the subway.

  3. September 6, 2006 at 3:22 pm

    I was 6 months pregnant that September. We had planned what we expected to be our last rafting trip for a couple of years (how right we were!) for that weekend — the weekend after sept. 11. It was eerie. Lack of air traffic made rafting through the canyon seem so much more remote, so isolated, almost desolate. I kept asking the others on the trip if they thought they could deliver my baby, if it came to that!

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