September 11th ~ Vulnerable. Like an open wound, that is how I would describe how I felt when I woke up this morning. There are instances in life that are so shocking, so painful and profound that you are stunned that they are actually even taking place. These are the events that your brain may willfully try to forget but you cannot because those same events are imprinted on your heart forever. We all have these moments. September 11, 2001 is one of those days. It is a day I will never forget.
I don’t want to write too much about September 11th this morning because I’ve written about it before. I just want to share with you this morning. This morning, I woke up and immediately remembered what day it was. Then I remembered what I was doing that beautiful day in September 12 years ago.
My husband was in Pennsylvania traveling for work and I was walking into my office at the small publishing house where I edited in North Carolina. I was 28 years old at 8:46 when I walked into work just in time to see the first plane hit the tower. I was stunned. All the air was sucked out of me. We sat in silence and then my first reaction was to call my husband. I desperately needed to hear his voice. I couldn’t reach him. The phones were down. I never felt so alone in my entire life. A nation full of people sharing a single event and I felt completely alone in my grief, my pain and my fear. I know that I wasn’t but pain is personal.
Today, 12 years later, I have everything. I have the Big Guy and we have been blessed with our two daughters. We have our health and are surrounded by love. Life has moved on in many ways for many people. We all fly again and we are learning to trust again. Our hearts are still heavy and cracked but no longer busted wide open. Only, maybe they are. 12 years later, I woke up on another gorgeous day in September and all it took was to hear sirens blaring past my neighborhood to send me into a full panic. My heart demanded that I not send the kids to school and I listened.
You see, though my brain has learned to deal with the pain of September 11th, my heart is still fundamentally broken and it is still haunted by the grief that was there not so long ago. My heart would not allow my girls to leave my arms today. It felt like the right thing to do if not the logical one. I feel like we need to spend the day remembering those who were taken from us on that day, mourning their deaths, celebrating their lives and marking that moment in time. I think we need to stop and feel the full weight of our loss. This is how I process.
I explained to my girls why I was keeping them home and what today was. They are 6 and 8. They’ve learned about September 11th in school but it’s not real to them; not the way it is real to all of us who witnessed that awful, horrible, heartbreaking day. They weren’t there that day when the entire world stood still and held its breath as terrorists put a gun to our united head. It was time. I showed them the video footage of the planes hitting the towers. We had a discussion. They now understand. There is reverence in our home today. We are happy to be alive. Blessed to be together and just a little nicer to one another.
You will not see me on social media today because I can not read the stories. My heart is too heavy with sadness from the stories of the past 12 years, instead I will be holding my children in my arms and thanking God that I am able to do so. Hug your children. Tell the people you love that they matter. Commit a random act of kindness.
Today, I kept my children home with me because I can. Some mothers were left childless on September 11th 2001 and for them, today I am silent. For them, I pray. For all the souls taken too soon, I will live completely, love fully and never take a single day for granted to honor their memory. I will never forget.
Please share your stories in the comments.