Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where we were; where we are

I dread this day every year.

And here it is, seven years later, and I think it's fair to say that most of us, even those of us who didn't live there and didn't lose anyone we knew personally and therefore weren't PERSONALLY affected by the 9/11 tragedy, have not forgotten. I still tear up when I watch the replays, and I still pray for the family members who have to re-live their bereavement, like a re-opening wound that never loses its scar tissue, every year.

There are a handful of events, akin to JFK's assasination for my parents' generation, that sear themselves into our memories so intensely that we forever remember where we were that day. The day my dad told us of his ALS diagnosis was one of those for me -- I still remember what I was wearing, the picnic table where we were all sitting, and, among other details, the blessing that Ian nursed himself off to sleep in my arms for two hours.

September 11 is, of course, another worn and well-illuminated groove in most of our memories. Where were you? It was a Tuesday, and we were living on Neely Farm Drive in Simpsonville, SC. Ian was thirteen and a half months old. My neighbor, Holly, and I were getting ready to walk up the hill to our neighborhood clubhouse for the first day of Music Group, a mommy-and-me class taught by another neighborhood mom. The heat must have faded by then, because I remember the clear morning light as she and I pushed our strollers up the hill. She told me that her husband had just called her from work to tell her that a plane had hit the WTC. Weird, we both thought. Then at the end of the class, another mom got a call on her cellphone from her husband, and we all huddled around, finished with The Grand Old Duke of York and the like, to hear the news about the second tower and the Pentagon. Holly and I snatched up our little boys and fled to the playground, unable to shake the goosebumps and the sense that something very big and very wrong was happening.

I was one of the many, many parents that day who flipped on the TV and tried to get some clarity about what was going on without exposing our wee ones to it, attempting to maintain the farce that Mommy is OK and everything else is too. Even today, I struggle with how much to say to my kids, how much more to add to their knowledge of what a terrifying place the world can be. I almost said something to them this morning, asking them if they knew what day it was, but thought better of it.

So now it's a Thursday, seven years later, and I have three children instead of one brilliant toddler, and we've been in the house all day because it's still too sticky out there, and one of my children has drunk at least four glasses of WHINE this morning and has taken over an hour to eat her lunch because she needs to get up and wander around every four nanoseconds, and another child was weeping and clinging to my leg until she went down for a nap, and another child just couldn't address any school work until he'd designed an intricate doorhanger for his room, and we had to stop and panic because we couldn't possibly do Latin when our Bionicle de-coder is lost, and people are coming to my house tonight when it is far, far from presentable, and we might be sheltering Hurricane Ike refugees this weekend in said unpresentable house, and no matter how much I clean up, the clutter seems to multiply like the heads of Hercules' Hydra, and this Hercules just wants a nap in a cool, dark room.

But we are alive, and we are together, and we have been given another day's portion of His tender mercies. And if I were trapped in a burning building today, I doubt I'd think about the tiny purple and pink beads all over the floor or the unfolded laundry that sits in front of the dryer. I need to look in their eyes, perhaps when they're most exasperating, and remember my three ordinary miracles today.


Samuel said...

Amen sister, amen.

Becca said...

Beautifully written, and oh so true.

Tracee said...

Well said. I was headed to Zany Brainy in Simpsonville. Pregnant with Tyler, clueless about the news until we showed up and the whole store was hushed and whispering about a bomb hitting the world trade center. i won't ever forget that day either.

Julie said...

I agree...very beautifully written and very very true...

Tracee said...

i hope you are safe from Ike!