It was September 11, 2001. I had a 22-month old and 5-month old. It was early. I heard the phone ring, but I was busy with the boys. I didn't pay attention to the message or wonder who had called. I assumed it was my mother and would return the call when I had finished changing the infant's diaper and cleaning up the toddler's breakfast mess. But something told me to check the answering machine right away, not to wait, and so I did. It was Lorie's voice, the voice of my childhood friend/maid-of-honor/partner and confidante in life's ups and downs. The voice was uncharacteristically shaken. "Ger, you have to turn on the news. A plane flew into the World Trade Center." I was holding the baby when I pressed the power button on the remote, and just as the screen turned from black to vivid image, I saw the billowing smoke from the tops of the towers and thought, "No way." Then the replay of the events were shown, the first building already ablaze, a commercial plane careening smack into the second building, the horror on the faces of journalists, and the unstated reality that some kind of evil plan was being carried out in New York. "Dear God," I started, but the rest of the prayer didn't come. I was mute and held my baby tightly. I took both boys into the playroom and turned on a Thomas the Tank Engine movie to occupy them while I called my friend. Our ears were on the handsets, but our eyes were glued to the televisions, every channel and every citizen mesmerized and stunned, almost in a trance of disbelief. "What is happening? HOW is this happening?" The questions were unstoppable, and then another crash was reported at the Pentagon; we refrained from admission of our country being under attack because that would mean we weren't as powerful or untouchable or... safe. But the towers fell. Those mighty steel structures disintegrated into a warzone scene of clouds and dust, engulfing the streets and skies, and even though I had the sound set low, I could hear the screams of those trapped, of those running to escape, of those trying desperately to save others. I could hear the sirens and the explosions; I could feel the confetti-like debris on my goosebumped arms and wet eyelashes. Lorie and I hung up before the story started to unfold about the crash in Shanksville, PA, and while my heart continued to pound, and my mind continued to swirl, I stepped outside on the front porch amid the silence that I never noticed before. Living close to an airport, that deafening silence will forever hold a place in my heart, that sign that life was standing still, and I wouldn't have hope again until I heard another plane fly overhead. I wanted to be with all the people that meant the most in my life. I wanted to see my boys smile, but I couldn't keep myself away from the news reports. I knew our world was now changed, and I finally finished my prayer. I knelt on the living room floor and bent across the couch with clasped hands, and I asked the Lord for answers, for resolution, for peace, for blessings bestowed on all those who lost their lives and for their loved ones who had to carry on without them, for my children's safety and happiness in a world that was now turned upside-down.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?