Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11: I was in a cow suit

My mother died the January before. I quit my job in May and had just enrolled in graduate school full time to finish my MBA.  All of my classes were in the evenings so I had my days to study or exercise or just be. 

I was raising money for my fifth American Lung Association “Sawtooth Pride” bike trek through the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho. The 3-day ride began that year on Sept 15 in Fairfield Idaho and ended at Banner Summit past Stanley. I spent a few Saturdays at the Farmers Market and Albertson’s peddling my road bike setup on a trainer. In a cow suit.  I assembled a team with my friends Bobette and Serena and we called ourselves C.A.L.F. – Cows Against Lung Failure.
My friend Maryjane worked the donation table and loved wearing the cow suit. After leaving one of our fundraising stations that summer, we noticed this window painting and HAD to stop.

I began my day on Tuesday, September 11, in my cow suit. I set up my bike trainer at Mocha Madness next to my donation card table.  I went inside to get my usual coconut latte (back when it didn’t matter if I started my day with a 700+ calorie beverage) and the TV was on showing the plane hitting the first tower.  I stood there slumped in my cow suit staring up in awe and confusion.
After getting my latte I went across the street for a bagel. I was getting breakfast for me and my pal Maryjane and her mom before they headed to school. Maryjane’s mom had just begun her job as a school principal at the area’s only charter school, and I couldn’t imagine what she was going to tell the kids. I was Maryjane’s age when Regan was shot.

The cow suit glee I’d begun my morning with wrestled with the TV images as I entered the bagel shop. Their TV was on, too. There were more people in here and as the seconds passed and the second tower was hit, my glee relented and a somber took over. I took off my hood while I waited for my bagel, and couldn’t wait to get out of there and out of my cow suit.
Maryjane and her mom drove up as I was de-cowing in the coffee shop parking lot. They hadn’t yet heard what was happening. It was hard to describe because no one really knew at that point, but we knew it was bad. Maryjane had lobbied to stay home from school the day before to cow with me, but she didn’t want to leave her mama’s side now. I was missing my mama, too.  

I stayed through the morning peddling next to my card table and coffee can. I draped the cow suit over the table and had brief conversations with customers throughout the morning. People were generous that day.  Tragedy does that.
It’s such a juxtaposition in the midst of tragedy as the sadness and fear are invaded by hope and gratitude when strangers help each other. Our generation will never forget 9/11, but we seem to constantly forget that it’s possible to be that kind, helpful, generous, and united ALWAYS—not just in the eye of tragedy.


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