11 Miles for 9/11

The summer of 2001 was not a good one for our family. You see that summer, my Uncle Jerry (my mom's oldest brother), whose family basically adopted me when I moved to San Francisco, learned he had kidney cancer. At the start of the year he had suffered a stroke, but by mid-summer he had made excellent progress in his recovery and was getting ready to return back to work. That is until the cancer diagnosis, and the prognosis wasn't good. At the end of July my mom and uncle's siblings (9 in total) and their families all convened in Tahoe for a family reunion. It was the last time they would all be together. After Tahoe, my uncle's health digressed and by September he was in the hospital.

My mom and another aunt had flown up from Hawai'i to help care for him and was scheduled to fly home on September 11th. That morning, I woke up, stumbled out of bed and turned on KTVU morning news. They were reporting that airplanes had hit the World Trade Center. At first I didn't comprehend what was happening, but once I did, I realized the magnitude of what was happening, and that air travel was not happening.

I immediately called my uncle's home, where my Mom was staying. My cousin Jeff answered the phone and when he put my Mom on the line, she was annoyed at me saying, "We're on our way to the airport!" I responded and said, "You're not going anywhere for a while...." and told them to turn on their TV.

For the next couple of hours I was completely glued to the news. The last thing I wanted to do was go to work, but I forced myself to get ready and out the door. At the time, I was working in Mountain View, CA at Nokia. As I drove down 101 South, I listened to KGO news radio and they were reporting that Flight 93 had gone down - but everything was still chaotic and unclear. I was so scared. Although I couldn't imagine anything happening on the West Coast, we still didn't know what was going on and our campus was right next to Moffat Air Field.

When I got to work, the company called an all-hands meeting where we had moments of silence, but was still expected to work the rest of the day. Of course, no work was done - me, my manager and the rest of our team were glued to our laptops. All we did was refresh our browser on MSNBC.com and CNN.com, horrified by the bits and pieces of news that were coming through. I still vividly remember the images of people fleeing down the street for their lives with huge clouds of smoke in the background.

I left work early and headed straight to the hospital. The rest of the family was all there in my Uncle's room. We watched the news for a while, then my uncle said to turn it off, he didn't want to watch it. You see, 9/11 had been a good day for him, the last good one he had. The following days and weeks were sobering and heartbreaking. Not only because of the 9/11 events, but 8 days later, Uncle Jerry passed away.

This morning, our Sunday Runday gang met at our usual gathering point in Golden Gate Park. We created our own memorial run, and ran 11 miles for 9/11. It is usually cold and foggy in this part of the City, but today it was clear. The temperature was warm and the sun shined brightly. It truly was a beautiful day for thought and reflection.

As I ran, I thought about the events that happened 10 years ago today. I fondly recalled my memories of my Uncle Jerry. But most of all, I felt humbled and grateful for all that I have experienced and been blessed with over the past 10 years.