Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Take a Breath, Pause, and Remember

So many years have passed since 9/11 impacted our country. Yet, I still remember the day as if it were etched in a mirror. We were living in Fairfax, VA and the Physicist was on his way to work, the College Kid was at school, and I was expecting a love seat to get delivered.

He called. Said turn on the TV. Twin Towers hit.

I listened. I turned on the TV. I watched the second plane hit during a live news report.

I heard the reports about the other planes, called the Physicist, told him to come home. He was on the phone with me when he heard the plane hit the Pentagon, saw the black smoke rising into the blue, oh so blue skies, and I cannot begin to tell you about my terror.

Shortly afterward, my love seat was delivered. The deliverymen, two big strong burly dudes, stood in shock in my living room as we watched the ongoing reports. I may have given them water, coffee, a hug. I don't know. I just remember standing there and feeling numb.

The College Kid was in the second grade. Some parents got their children and brought them home. But I let her stay in school where I knew her teachers and the administration would do everything in their power to protect her. Then I called my church, asked them to pray, and brought out the ironing board.

I ironed and I prayed. I ironed, ironed, ironed. I think I may have ironed my underwear. I know I ironed the linens. Each rhythmic swoosh across the fabric calmed my racing mind as I waited for the Physicist to return home. He did. Then we walked to the school bus stop together to pick up our child.

But so many people didn't come home. So many people didn't get to pick up their children from the school bus stop. And so many people lost someone they loved that day. My throat closes around that memory, the heat of tears prickle behind eyes, the sorrow squeezes my lungs as I write this now.

So now I take a breath, pause, and remember 9/11 by honoring those who were lost, those who responded to that horrific tragedy and were forever changed, and those who continue to serve my country by risking their lives every day for the sweet gift of freedom.


Melanie Dickerson said...

I will never forget that day either, Christine. As an American, I always felt safe. But after that day, I think we all lost some of our innocent naivete, thinking random violence would never affect us as innocent citizens, going to work, going about our daily lives. Evil came close to us that day in a way we couldn't ignore.

I need to pray more often the way I prayed that day, fervently praying for wisdom for our leaders and protection for our civil servants, the police and firemen and our soldiers.

After that, I felt this urgency to help people, to be kind to others. I saw a man a few days later who was holding up a sign saying Will Work for Food, and I turned around, bought him some food at McDonalds, and handed it to him out of my window! I'd never done anything like that before! But something about 9/11 had made me want to be kind to random strangers, the same way those terrorists had wanted to hurt random strangers! Odd, isn't it? :-) I wish we could all hold on to that desire to help each other. I think the urgency in me, at least, has faded. We need to remember to do acts of random kindness and now let it take something like 9/11 to make us care!

Christine said...

I think that it's a beautiful idea to practice random acts of kindness to strangers, Melanie. I try to be kind to everyone I meet, too. It's important to have positive human contact so we can obliterate the negative ones. I honestly was changed that day in ways I can't begin to describe. I definitely changed the way I think about the world. And I learned to value those who go out there and run into the trouble while we are trying to run away from danger. First responders and their families deserve our appreciation and respect. As do our military people. I may not always agree with what my country does politically, but I have faith in the people who fight for us and protect us. And that goes a long way.

Crystal Lee said...

Dark Knight and I left work and went home as soon as we got the news. We didn't know what else might happen, and being at home together seemed better than staying apart at work. So many people suffered such devastating loss, but we got to see glimpses of true heroism in action. Words fail whenever I consider that day. We'll always remember...

Christine said...

It was just a horrific day, but you're right. There were so many acts of heroism that day and I really fell in love with my adopted country all over again. I will always honor this day and remember those who did so much and continue to do so much for us.