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If I could stop time, I know exactly the day make that the moment I would choose. It would be Thursday, November 1, 2001, at 3:30 p.m.
I had just walked out my front door to make the short trip across the street to the bus stop, to wait for my son. It was one of those perfect fall days: not at all cold, a little warm, in fact, for November. There was just a hint of a breeze bringing with it the familiar scents of the season. I decided to sit down on the edge of my porch and watch for the bus from there.
As I sat, I saw my neighbor on my left, Jan, raking leaves and looking as she always does, like one who is at one with nature, dressed in her usual flannel shirt over jeans and a tee shirt. I could hear the rake as it met with leaves and then scraped over her driveway. On my other side there was a dog, Nickie, who at that time every day takes her post to guard her family’s turf from the gathering moms at the bus stop, barking if someone comes a little too close.
My own dog, Jessie, has come over to curl up in my lap, uncharacteristically content to be there rather than engage in a barking match with Nickie, or chase leaves as they dance across the lawn. Mary, across the street, pulls out of her driveway in her SUV, and we wave. And I think about how much I like her how much I like all of my neighbors and their children. I think about how lovely fall is and how anxious I am to see my son again.
And, just for a moment, I forgot. I forgot that we were on High Alert. I forgot about my fears for my son and for his future. I forgot that sometimes I’m afraid to get up in the morning and go to work in the city.
For just a moment, life is good again. It is beautiful, and lovely, and hopeful.
And, I want to say, for just a moment life was much like it was before September 11th. Before “high alerts” had become common-place, before an airplane flying overhead was cause for me to hold my breath until it passed.
But, life will never be as it was before September 11th. And maybe, had there not been a September 11th, I would not be so affected by... just a moment.
© 2001 RST
Originally read over the air on Quinn in the Morning the day after it was written, “Just a Moment” is published here by gracious permission of the author, who may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Lane Core Jr. (email@example.com)
Created November 3, 2001; revised November 5, 2001.