Today the boys went to school. I worked a full day. I ran an errand and bought shiny things at the grocery store. I took the dog out, brought the dog in, took the dog out. I got the mail, opened packages. I talked on the phone, sent email, cussed at my email, tweeted, looked at Facebook, said a prayer for a friend paying her last respects to her grandmother today, read blog posts, and clicked through the Internet. I made a snack for the boys. I made dinner. I got us to soccer on time. I read while one kid practiced, and the other kid read his own book. I debated stopping for an iced latte, but the fall weather arrived sometime midday, leaving no desire for anything iced.
And then we stopped.
At the fire department.
I don’t like when he works on 9/11, but it happens. So we stopped. Just in time to help wash trucks.
I joked with the other firefighters. I snapped photos. I decided I should have the boys wash the house since they didn’t argue or whine once while they washed those trucks. We laughed.
And then I heard the flag snapping in the breeze. The flag, half mast.
We stopped to see him—my husband, their dad—but we stopped to be part of our family for just a few minutes this evening. Our bigger family, bigger than just the four of us. Our fire family: the one that extends beyond our home, beyond our department, beyond our state. The one that weeps today, still, and always for the 343.
We laughed tonight as the boys washed trucks, set off sirens. We laughed because we’re free to do so. We remembered just by being together.
And then I got to take the kids home, read them two books we always read on this day…
Fireboat and September Roses
…and then I answered their questions. Each year, they ask more and more questions. Each year, I answer them as best I can, with as much age appropriate information as I can. They told me what they learned in school today. I told them the new things I learned this year. They asked me for the first time where I was that day, and I told them I was at college. And then I tucked them in, finished the laundry, straightened the kitchen, sat down, and exhaled.
Today will never be just another day, but we move through it as best we can each and every year.