Everyone is asking each other these days, "Where were you? Do you remember?" AS if we could ever forget....
I was driving into work. I remember it was the day of the week I usually spent the morning in quiet prayer. I wish I could say I was doing some super spiritual thing--praying protection for the president or whatever. But, honestly, I don't remember praying over anything specific before I left the house. Anyway, I was oblivious to what was going on.
I was actually just getting on the highway when something didn't feel right. I noticed there was very little traffic, considering the time of day (late rush-hour). I normally leave the radio off on the way to work and enjoy the quiet. But, I turned it on then. And, my blood froze.
It actually took a few minutes to figure out what was going on. Then, it was everything I could do not to cry, so I could keept seeing well enough to drive. The only thing I could manage was a strangled cry, "Oh, God! Help them!" I just repeated it over and over. I arrived at work and let myself just cry in the parking lot for a bit. I think the south tower fell as I went inside.
Through out the day I alternated the mantra, "Just carry on," in my head, and with the heart cry, "Oh, God! Help them!" The term "Them" kept taking on a different identity--the families of the lost, or the police and firemen, or the survivors. A lot of the time, though, it was just a blind cry to God.
I remember little of work that day. I know I did my job. I remember my wife called me to see if I had heard the news. I remember going by the sales office at one point. They had a TV hooked up. I saw a live picture of the North tower burning, but still standing. I had a recurring flashback all day about my high school graduation dinner. My parents took the family to the restaurant on the top floor of the Trade Center. And, I remember crying when the second tower fell. In fact, I remember crying several times through out the day. I remember barely being able to talk most of the time. And, I remember calling home just to tell my wife I loved her and ask about the kids.
I remember thinking of friends I had in New Jersey, during high school. I hadn't thought of them much over the years. We lost touch and moved around a lot in the years afterwards. But, back in high school, many of them had parents who worked in the City. I cried wondering if any of those I'd known worked their now. And, whether any of them were gone.
But, that's all I can honestly tell you about that day.
The thing I remember most happened at church that evening. Many there had to talk through the hurt and fear and anguish. I just cried quiet tears. Until an ex-Marine (please don't give me an arguement on there being no such thing here, ok) told of being at work--as an air traffic controller. He described the tears as they pulled out the book on how to ground all the planes in the air. He told of how his son, also a Marine, called as he boarded a ship--unable to tell his dad where he was going. The son simply called to say he loved his dad. I thought of my daughter, who had just entered military service. That ex-Marine and I looked at each other and cried.
That's where I was. Sounds pretty mundane. I know a lot of people had a similar day. I know there were many who experienced much worse. But, I also know no one was untouched by it all. I also realize there is a bigger question. And, it's a question that, personally, I don't have an answer for.
Where am I now? Even as I write this, I'm feeling the same deep ache all over again. And, I'm crying those same anguished tears. Yes, it still hurts with an intesity I can't describe. It hurts partly because there's been no closure to it all. It also hurts because the terrorist's goal was achieved. You see, despite my faith in Christ, I am very much afraid it will happen again.
You said, "it sounds pretty mundane" but I think it's quite powerful. It might have been a common experience for many people, but there is a powerful honesty in your words, and your emotions really come through. There was a pang in my throat as I read it.
Thanks for sharing.