Yeah.  Everyone else in the world is blogging about 9/11 today.  I thought about going a different route; finding something upbeat to go on about here at the Cottage, keep it toasty, keep it light.

But, no.

9/11 was a moment that defined my life.  And no matter how hard, no matter how much it sucks, how much we’d rather forget some of our most defining moments…

They are the ones that make us into the people we are meant to be.

I was 16 years old when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001.  Young.  Impressionable.  Innocent.

But innocence never lasts, does it?  Destruction and hate at the magnitude of the 9/11 disaster can change a girl’s mind about the world at large.

For the first time, I was forced to think of something beyond my own little cocoon.  It was no longer clothes, dances, friends, and football games on Friday nights.   It was the real world.

For the first time, I understood war.  Death.  Terror.  Pain.  I didn’t lose anyone in the tragedy of 9/11 but I knew others who did – and I knew that the firefighters lost in the collapse could just have easily been my family, my firefighter uncles and grandfather.

My high school was, and probably still is, a bit of a preppy, upstart kinda school.  There were many, many cliques and a lot of separation between the groups.

But, there was a dissolution of that separation during 9/11.  A lot of silence – companionable silence.  Hush over the student body, as if speaking were tantamount to a deadly sin.  The kind of banding together that was sweeping the nation could be found in miniature in my high school.

My mom  was on her honeymoon during 9/11 – she had just left with my stepdad.  My cousin Cory stayed with me while they were gone.

(PS For those of you who  haven’t followed my blog for years, Cory passed away in 2008 in a car accident.  He was 25 years old – a US Marine and a firefighter.)

This was one of the last periods of time I remember spending with Cory because it wasn’t too long thereafter that he left to be a soldier.

When I arrived home after an extremely surreal day of school, Cory was waiting for me.

“I want to go to church.  Do you?” he asked me, sitting on the couch in our living room with the television silently playing coverage in the background.  I hadn’t known Cory to be a very religious guy.

I shrugged.  “I guess.  That sounds like a good idea.  We should do something.

“Where should we go?”

There was a church nearby that was small but popular, so I named it.  We hopped in the car and went, both of us silent.  We sat beside each other in the pew, holding hands and praying.  I didn’t really know who I was praying to at that point in my life, but I did it anyway, hoping someone was listening.

I wish I could remember more about that time with Cory.  If I had known I would lose him only a few short years later, I would have categorized, written, and intently observed every move he made, every word he said, every smile he gifted me.  But, like everything in life, like 9/11, death is something we never see coming.

People say the loss of one’s virginity is the loss of innocence.  I say bullshit.  My first sexual encounter is damn near forgotten.  The loss of one’s innocence can’t be calculated by bumbling teenage encounters — the loss of one’s innocence is measured in adversity.

My loss of innocence began on September 11, 2001.

On this ten year anniversary, my heart remains with the families of 9/11 victims.  I salute the soldiers of my country, the police officers and firefighters — those active and those who were lost in the collapse.  And I continue to pray for the world to find peace and coexistence on all levels.

Most of all, I just cling to Hope.  Hope in a brighter future.