Growing up can be challenging even with the ideal surroundings. Your teen years are even more puzzling because you seem to be stuck in between being a child and an adult. Throw in not having a father or mother around and life gets difficult. The year 2001 was a difficult year for my family and the nation. My life growing up wasn’t picture perfect, but in one very long month I learned that kindness from those around will help you endure and survive. Moreover, I still remember the day my mom had her final mental breakdown. It was late August because I remember Thad just started a new year in high school.
After school that day we couldn’t find her anywhere. My best friend’s mom drove me around looking for her. This wasn’t the first time she had just started wondering and couldn’t find her way home. At the end of all of it, we found out she had several mental disorders and a cyst on the front part of her brain. Some of her illness came from the cyst, but most came from abuse. My older sister contributed to the abuse, controlling and demanding. On top of that, she had a very rough upbringing not to mention the things my dad did to her.
Doctor’s said it was a combination of past and present abuse as well as high stress from being a single mother was the true culprit of why my mother’s mind broke. Now that I’m older, I wish I stood up for her and maybe that would have prevented her breakdown. Many things unraveled quite quickly after that fateful day and nothing has been the same again. First, after my mom had been placed in a behavior center we were evicted. The rent had been pass due for months, but she kept it all to herself trying to protect us. At the age of 16 I was homeless and felt like an orphan.
My siblings and I lived with friends, which is where we stayed for the next year. The month of September felt like the worst month of my life and it lasted even longer. Of course, our father was nowhere to be found and too busy self-medicating to care. After several days we would go and visit my mom at the behavioral center. We would go a lot more often than I wanted with everything that had happened. It seems like a horrible thing to say or feel, but when we were evicted, I had the responsibility of packing and cleaning. Almost all of our pets had been given away except for two and they lived in a cage outside someone’s house.
I can’t even remember the day a bunch of people came to help move our things to several different storage places. The stress of that was so intense, I must have blocked it out of my memory. Thus far, I just started a new year in high school and I am now living at a friend’s house. The family was really great and tried their best to make me feel at home. Although, at times the youngest of the three daughters would get jealous because of how her mom was treating me. She was 13 at the time and use to being the center of attention and then I moved in, which changed everything.
I recall feeling like I was an inconvenience and intrusive on their lives. Even though I lived with them I did have an aunt that lived in the same town. I didn’t ever live with her, but she did take me clothes shopping. This was due to the fact that all of my teachers got together to inform her that they had noticed me wearing the same pants to school. My teachers always surrounded me with questions of concern for us, which made me feel embarrassed and not want to go to school every day. However, one day, during that dreadful September, remember more vividly than the others.
A normal school day or at least we thought at first. During English class my teacher’s phone started buzzing. He had only ever answered his phone if it were an emergency and everyone new not to call during school hours. As he grabs his phone we all stop working and lean in to listen. We knew whoever called thought it was important enough not to wait. My teacher gasps and instructs one of us to turn on the television we had in class. It was a really old television with the bunny ears antenna on the top. At that point, he tells us all to quiet down and watch as history unfolds in front of us.
I remember being a little baffled by that comment and not understanding what he meant. Not much time had passed before the entire class knew exactly what he meant. The news was on, they were showing footage of New York City, and I recognized the skyline almost immediately. Before I even knew what they were saying I noticed smoke coming from one of the matching towers. Honestly, until that day I didn’t know those buildings were called the World Trade Centers. Furthermore, we were all wide eyed because they just said a plane had hit tower one or two.
Suddenly, the second tower is struck in front of our eyes and everyone is panicked. Even if we were only watching it on the television, I remember feeling uneasy and sad. We spent the rest of the day watching those horrible events take place. For a long time after even on channels such as cartoon network, they only covered the 9/11 tragedy and the recovery effort. However, school went back to normal after the first day, but at home or rather at my friend’s house was all about the news. We sometimes watched the footage from morning to night. Everyone was obsessed and probably seen every video that aired those days.
After about a week pass my Aunt called to inform us that my Grandfather had passed away. I remember being asked if I wanted to go to his funeral or not. At first I didn’t want to deal with it and just wanted to hide away from all of it. Then I found out my mom was going and I thought it would be nice to be with her out of a facility. My grandfather died of kidney cancer, but since 9/11 was going on while he was in the hospital, they said he woke up thinking he was in it. This probably happen because everyone that visited him watched the coverage while they were in the room.
Even though he had died, that week wasn’t so bad because I got to spend it with my mom. Although, the week coming home was unbearable because with her I was able to forget about all of our problems and pretend everything was back to normal. The events of 9/11 and my grandfather passing made me realize that even though my family was going through a lot, with the kindness of those around us, we were going to survive. I didn’t live with my mom again until I was 20 and she needed help with my brother, but I kept moving forward in my life.
After everything that had happen in September of 2001, we eventually got our lives back on track. It took us and the nation months to rebuild from what had occurred. In the end we all pulled through and rebuilt on what we lost. The lives that were affected will never be the same, but we survived. When looking back I will always remember the kindness that people shown me and my family. All the sacrifices the people who cared for me went through will never be forgotten. I will never forget just like the American people will never forget September 2001, where we changed forever, but survived.