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The Trauma Was Unbearable

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It was a beautiful day in the Fall of 2001. I was ten years old, and in fifth grade in an all girl school ran by nuns in Bordeaux, France. That morning in school, it was almost recess. I loved to play soccer with the other girls so during recess instead of eating snacks, I would ask the other girls to get in the yard, and be in my team. I love to play goaltender. I am the leader. Every girl in school seems to follow me. They wanted to be in my team. Is it because my name is on the top Honor Roll or because when I said something, the girls listened? They love me because I am bilingual and friendly. I do speak several languages in addition to French.

So many times I have invited most of my schoolmates to my Grandma’s big house where we’d will play, and ran around the lake behind the house. I would ask them to get on the boat, and I will row the boat as fast as I could. We will all be screaming and laughing. Then, we would climbed trees, and picked apples. I will show the girls how to bake apple pie, and we will make a big messed of my Grandma’s beautiful, and immaculately clean kitchen.

The morning of September 12, 2001 was nothing extraordinary. It was just another day. But I felt something different. Our teacher who was a beautiful postulant from Belgium kept on staring at me. She was so nice, and speaks perfect French and English. Then, while we were having a Mathematical problem to solve, someone from the school office came, and asked for me. I was nervous because when Mother Superior asked to see you in her office that means you will be subjected to disciplinary action. I immediately went to my teacher, and asked her quietly as to what did I do. Her blue eyes were so watery. She was crying. She quickly wiped her tears, and told me to go see the Mother Superior.

As I walked down the long hallway to the Office, I was praying hard to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God to give me protection. My mind kept on sorting things out. What did I do wrong? I have never been called in to the office before except when I wrote an essay, and the Mother Superior gave me a plaque recognizing my creative writing skills.

So as I entered the Office, I was greeted by the Assistant Director who is an elderly nun. She smiled at me, and showed me to the Mother Superior’s inner chamber. The Mother Superior asked me to come in and said to close the door behind me. She said, “Come here, my child.” She sounded so soft but her voice was quivering.

She hugged me so tight and started crying. I was bewildered. I really do not understand what’s going on.

It was about a minute of tight hug. The Mother Superior pulled her white handkerchief and wiped her tears so profusely. She told me quietly and with a soft voice, “I just talked with your mother in United States and she was asking if you could come home immediately. She wanted you to take the next flight home.” “I will let one of the teachers to escort you and your Grandmother for the long flight to California.” I looked at the Mother Superior’s face. Her white face was all red and her eyes were swollen from crying. I asked her what’s the matter.

She said, “Something terrible happened. You must go home and be with your Mom. She needs you, my child.”

I was shaken to my feet. “What happened, dear Mother Superior?” The Mother Superior turned her back and responded, “Something awful happened to your father and brother.” “Go now, my child, one of the teacher and the bus driver will take you and your grandma to the airport.” “We will pray for you and your family.”

The Mother Superior took me to the school bus and gave me a big hug and said, “May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you my child.” Then, the teacher told me that we will pass by her home to pick up her luggage and then, we will pick up my grandma and finally, we will proceed straight to the airport.

These events did not really sink in me. I was in disbelief. I was asking the teacher what is going on but she said that she does not know the details. I asked, “What happened to my Dad and my brother?” She answered softly, “I do not know.” Then, she hugged me.

We picked up my grandma from her home. I asked her right away what is happening. My grandma just cried.

She said, “Don’t worry, I am here.” It seems like a long drive to the airport.

When we got at the airport, we were told that all flights to USA were cancelled.

We went back home. My grandma called my Mom and informed her that all flights were cancelled.

I spoke with my Mom on the phone and she informed me what happened on 9/11.
My Dad and older brother were among the victims. My chest just burst in heavy emotions. I felt heaven just crushed upon me. I just fell on my Grandma’s arms.

My Dad and brother were among the victims. For a ten-year-old, those words seemed too much to comprehend. The trauma was unbearable for me to believe. At that moment, I was inconsolable. In a day or two, I learned that my Mom had a massive heart attacked. The grief was too much for her to bear. And I was not there to help her cope. I was just a child.

My Dad was the one who gave me the nickname “Lovely.” He was a loving and devoted father. He was originally from Spain. He was only thirty-seven years old. He was in perfect health and extremely handsome. My brother was fourteen years old, a good-looking young boy with green eyes.

I was told by my Mom that when the nurse brought me out of the delivery room and handed me over to my Dad he blurted out “Lovely.” Since then, he called me by that name. But in Catholic religion, we are given a baptismal name during christening. However, the nickname became the only name my Dad will call me.

I do miss my father and brother so much. My father loved to sing also. He always sings “No Se Tu” a song by Luis Miguel. His favorite English song was “Forever” by Kenny Loggins. My Dad has a striking resemblance to the famous singer Luis Miguel.

How I wished I could turn the clock back. These beloved men in our lives were taken away too soon. Why?

This coming Father’s Day on June 21, 2009. I would like to honor my beloved Dad for being a wonderful father.

Dad, “Yo Queria para siempre.” “Si, queria.”

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