September 12, 2001
I’ve been wondering what to write about lately. There’s so much good material… my road trip to Chicago, the Minnesota State Fair, the first day of school, the Vikings season opener…
Ah yes… all good material for sure. However, there’s something important looming. Something heavy.
We dread it; we revere it; we hate to re-live it… but we must.
In three days, it will be the tenth anniversary of September 11th.
Everyone is being asked to remember where they were on that day. Of course, we all know where we were. I was a young mother and had just waved goodbye to my first grader as he boarded the school bus at the end of our driveway. I glanced at the time in the corner of the TV screen and hurried to get my four year old ready for daycare so I wouldn’t be late for my 9am meeting.
The first plane struck as I was trying to find some earrings to match my outfit. Such a bummer. What a tragedy. Those poor people. Now then… silver hoops or beady dangles?
I was making my bed and preparing to leave when the second plane struck. I sank onto the bed, my eyes glued to the Today Show. “Clearly, this is some kind of attack,” Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were saying. I couldn’t process it… couldn’t really understand the implications… all I knew was that this day would go down in history. I watched in horror for a good several minutes before I finally went and scooped up my four year old and hugged him tight. “Look Cole,” I said. “Look at the TV. You’ll remember this day forever.”
About ten minutes later, I dropped Cole off at daycare and somehow managed to show up on time for my 9am meeting. I stumbled through it, then left around noon, finally realizing that no one else would be coming into the office that day.
I don’t remember much else from that long Tuesday, but I do remember this. While I was tucking my little boys into bed that night, I remember being thankful that they were so blissfully ignorant to the devastating events of the day. But then, as we were finishing our night time prayers, Cole said something I’ll never forget. Very quietly, he added, “And God bless the people in the crashing towers.”
God. bless. the. people. in. the. crashing. towers.
That day was so deep… so significant… so tragic. It changed us, and it changed our nation forever. And while people are quick to remember their memories and emotions from September 11th, it’s really September 12th that holds more significance for me. That’s the day our nation woke up at war, and I started to question everything I thought I knew.
What’s Al-Qaeda? Who’s Osama Bin Laden? How could those people hate us so much? Are we bad? What’s wrong with us?
I scoured the internet, searching for answers. I read passages from the Koran, trying to wrap my head around the term “jihad.” I started reading my Bible for the first time, and craved to understand the differences between the world’s major religions. I signed up to be a Sunday School teacher, poring over my weekly lesson plans and trying hard to stay one step ahead of my well-versed third graders.
And, like most… I questioned my purpose. Life suddenly seemed so important. Was I using my God-given talents to make a difference in the world? Or was I wiling away my time, oblivious to any higher meaning?
About that time, I decided I wanted to be a writer. A real one… that actually wrote for a living. I took a writing class and suddenly felt at home… at peace… like I was finally “among my people” and doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
But unfortunately, my higher purpose did not pay the bills. So, ten years later… here I am. Still searching, still wondering, still hoping to get it right.
Yet, that’s what we’re all doing, aren’t we? Hoping to get it right?
We search for meaning, strive for balance, wish for happiness, and pray for peace. And at the end of the day, we just hope we’ve set a good example for our children, who aren’t nearly as blissfully ignorant as we may think.
God bless the people in the crashing towers.