It was early one morning, October 2012. We were loading up the car for a road trip to several National Parks with an ultimate destination of Philadelphia to celebrate my 30th birthday. My husband and I had been trying to conceive, and though I wasn’t due to take a pregnancy test just yet, it sat there on the counter, taunting me. “Why not,” I thought. I figured it would drive me crazy on our long trip if I didn’t. So I did. And it was positive.
My parents were traveling with us; I had to spill it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide it. We were all cautiously overjoyed. I sat in the backseat, alternating between completely freaking out and trying to calculate my due date.
En route to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania late that day we decided to stop at the Flight 93 Memorial, dedicated to those victims of the September 11th attacks.
I will never forget the feeling of that spot.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and peaceful, the memorial is on the site where Flight 93 impacted. You could still see the scars in the land as you follow the path along the field. Tokens left by visitors line the low stone wall. There was a hushed silence. It is one of the most haunting places I’ve ever visited.
At the end of the walkway, there is a wall engraved with the names of the victims who perished on Flight 93 that day. It lines the flight path. A gate looks out over the field where the victims lost their lives.
I was just a week or so from freshman move-in when the attacks occurred. My then-boyfriend (now husband) came to my parents house and together we watched the events unfold. Like everyone else, we sat in disbelief, wondering what it meant. On the day we visited this memorial, newly expecting and full of hope and excitement–I saw the name of victim Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas–with “and unborn child” engraved next to it. It hit me like a punch.
I knew all of their stories, of course. But that day, in those circumstances, that one carried extra weight for me. There I stood, full of expectation and life. And I stared at this engraved stone, in this somber place. Joy cut short.
In that moment, less than a day into knowing I was going to be a mother. And already the world seemed that much bigger, scarier and heartbreaking.
Afterwards, as we drove away, we saw the most beautiful rainbow of my life.
I still felt hope.