The Day I Woke Up a Child and Went to Bed an Adult

I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock. Its blaring noise always made my ears bleed as it screamed at me to start my day. With my eyes half open, I shuffled down the ladder of my wooden bunk bed. I was still in summer mode and not excited for another day of third grade.

My mornings typically went like this:

  • Brush teeth.
  • Make lunch (usually pb&j’s).
  • Get dressed.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Kiss my still-sleeping mom goodbye.

But something different happened that day.

My mom was already awake. I could hear the tv on in her room. It was unusual for her to be up so early as she worked nights. I remember feeling worried. She told me my Yijah (grandma in Thai), who lived in New Jersey, had called her with news — one of the twin towers had been hit by a plane.

My mother and I plopped down in front of the tv as we watched the chaos unfold. It didn’t matter what channel, it was on every channel. I watched people jump out of the flaming towers. I watched the second tower get hit. My mother’s fingers delicately parted and combed my unruly curly hair as we watched hundreds of people die in real time. I don’t think I blinked once. My mom still kept doing my hair. She told me I had to still go to school.

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