A woman in her 60s has told of the traumatic aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing how she spent the day and night after the attacks crying and being unable to move.
She said she felt so ashamed of her feelings for her son that she wanted nothing more than to be able to visit him at home.
But her grief was compounded by her anxiety about returning to work, as she feared the loss of her job could have an adverse effect on her health.
“I would never want to go back,” she said in a phone interview with The Washington Times.
“I want to have the opportunity to work again.
And if my son is in my life again, it would make a difference to me.”
Karen L. was the daughter of an Air Force veteran who joined the military in 1986 and was stationed in Florida when the attacks occurred.
Her husband, who was a former Army soldier, retired in 1997.
In the months leading up to the attacks, Karen was worried about her mental health.
Her son, a Navy officer, was a regular on her base in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she grew up.
She was also worried about the possibility that she would lose her job because of the attacks.
“When I went into work, I was worried because I didn’t want to be a burden to him,” Karen said.
“But it was the opposite.
I wanted him to feel secure.”
She said that she felt relieved when she returned to work on Sept. 12, 2001.
“There was a sense of relief, a sense that everything was going to be OK,” she recalled.
“And then I felt very alone.”
After returning to her hometown of Gainesville, Fla.
and being assigned to a Navy base, Karen found herself on the front lines of the terrorist attacks.
Her mother was seriously wounded, and she had been placed in a medically induced coma.
But the events of Sept. 1, 2001 led Karen to reconsider her position of support for her former husband.
“You just have to go through the day with the memories,” she explained.
“If I was going home, I would be scared of what would happen.”
Kirkland, Wash., resident Karen L. with her mother, who served in the Air Force.
Her father was a Navy veteran and served as a flight commander.
Her mother had recently lost her husband, a flight officer.
She had been unable to care for him.
“The day he came home from Afghanistan, it was a nightmare for me,” Karen recalled.
“The whole world was just in a state of shock.”KAREN L. LAMBERT, an associate professor of political science at the University of Washington, is a member of the National Committee on Women’s Health and Human Rights.
She is the author of “Facing Fear: How Women and Men Respond to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Assault Trauma.”
This story was produced by The Washington Institute for Investigative Reporting.