Remembering the events of 9/11 and the tragedy of that day is as simple as walking into my living room today, and seeing my ten year old, watching the same TV, legs criss-crossing back and forth with her chin propped in her hands, carelessly watching the Disney Channel. What a radically different picture than the fears and uncertainties that filled my heart that day…ten years ago.
I woke up early that morning. I was nursing and Maddie was a frequent eater. We’d gotten through our five o’clock, seen Daddy off to work, checked in with Grammy on our progress and played with fingers and toes and had just settled into our last feeding before morning nap. The clock on the VCR blinked 12:00 from the day before. I reached for the remote and turned on the morning news, my only connection to the world not consumed with diapers and pacifiers.
“A small commuter plane has accidentally flown into one of the buildings.” I listened as some lady gave her report of what she was seeing as the newscaster tried to determine how this could happen. Then as i was watching the smoke, we all saw it, those who did, the plane on the left hand of the screen plow into the parallel building. And I knew, though I’d never thought this word before, immediately my heart lurched, “terrorists.” Maddie became fussy, pushing and pulling, trying to get what my mind had accidentally, unconsciously shut off. I couldn’t move. I could barely breathe. We were under attack.
I watched in horror. As the story unfolded, but Maddie had to eat and I wasn’t letting down so I forced myself to turn the TV off. It dawns on me that I never called Brian, and he didn’t call me. My one concern in all the world was her – Maddie, the sweet baby girl trying to rest in my arms. I took her to my bathroom. I don’t know why. It was small and enclosed and I had spent most of my pregnancy there, it had become a safe place. I sat on the floor, rocking her and singing and all the while praying for her, for us, for our protection, for our country, for our president, for Jesus to come and get us.
I fell asleep there. I woke up about 30 minutes later to even more chaos. More planes and downed towers and debris and bodies and more fear and anger and questions gripped my heart. As I watched the smoke from the gaping hole in the ground and the same billowing out of the pentagon, and the ruins of the collapsed towers, I remembered the woman giving her report from the building close by just an hour before. I wondered, and I still do, is she gone? Her voice still haunts my mind at times, it was so free and light, no fear, just the thoughts and sounds of an observer. I cried. It wasn’t fair! I drove to mom and dads. I didn’t want to be alone.
I remember it was a picture perfect day. The sky was clear and blue and as I drove I watched the jets fly over head and helicopters in the distance. There was rumor that the president was an hour and half away. The military was positioning. This was war.
A million thoughts went through my head that day, a million voices, a million scriptures, and ten million prayers. Our lives were changed that day. Our feelings of unconditional security was stripped. America the beautiful was now America the compromised, America the vulnerable, and America the hated. Yes, our pride rallied and we held hands for about six months realizing our frailties and calling on God our only protector and keeper, but as our strength rebounded our faith dwindled.. We began to trust again in our horses and chariots and dismissed the need for a powerful God.
I do remember powerfully one other thing from that day. My faith in God grew and my hope in my destiny was grounded. I was ready. I would do whatever the end required of me and I would trust that there was a Hope that waited with open arms for when the fight was done. And with that knowledge came peace beyond human understanding, a peace that never waned, a peace that abides still. For the second time in my life when the question “what if this is it?” filled my heart, I was able to respond with powerful truth, “then we go Home.” And, my resolve became greater, my heart more moved, and my spirit more willing to help the unfortunate, the lost, the weak, and the hurting… So that they too might join me in that final homecoming. They too might experience His peace.
Maddie is up and about now, eating and playing and smiling and laughing. She is safe. And for that I am grateful… To God first who saves us all and to our troops and first responders who went into action that day and everyday before and since, who risked there lives, gave up their families, and allow us a look back 10 years to a day we will never forget.