I’m a procrastinator. I tend to do many things, if not last minute, then a day late. For example, I forgot it was my sister’s birthday today until I just happened to check her away message. So happy 14th birthday, Sis!
September 11th. I’m a day late on this too, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ve been reading all these posts about people’s thoughts on Sept 11th, discussed it in my Student Government meetings, and heard about an essay my Advanced Composition Professor wrote about visiting Ground Zero. He has a beautiful line in it…”There is an absolute silence…With grief in the stones strewn about…” Prof H rocks. That’s all.
I went to the emergency room on the night of September 10th. I can’t remember if that was the time I went unconscious in the hallway of my dorm or if that was different. But I went because of my heart. It turned out to be a big nothing on that, but I returned to campus in a drugged, exhausted stupor a mere 2 hours before the planes flew into the first tower. I spent the night in a friend’s room, and as her alarm came on that morning at 8 am Pacific time, I caught the briefest of sentences about a plane flying into the Pentagon. I thought it was a movie preview. As my friend reached over to smack down the snooze button and take advantage of our excused skips, I protested, wanting to hear more…because there was the tiniest hint of uncertainty deep inside. Like a scratch in the record of my reality. But, brushing it off, I slid out of the bed and dragging my rainbow quilt behind me, padded down the hallway to my own room. Snuggling underneath my sheets and debating of whether or not to skip all my classes, I slipped off into one last peaceful sleep before the world went insane around me.
Two hours later, my room mate’s boyfriend called and woke me. Incredulous, he learned that I’d slept through the morning’s events. Shaking, I listened as he told me what was going on. Classes had been cancelled. There were televisions everywhere on campus, a ring of praying students around our flagpole, a growing list of those who students knew in the Pentagon and Twin Towers unfolding in the mail room, jets flying overhead from nearby military bases, people sobbing, yelling, sitting in stunned silence around our campus…asking why…and how…and what’s going to happen now.
The majority of September 11th 2001 is a blur of anger, tears and shock, save for two ice cold clear memories. I walked into the campus coffee shop and a television was just capturing the second building collapsing. My heart fell with it into a shadowy mess of intense rage, sorrow, horror, pain, and compassion – for those in the towers, those who knew them, and those who thought that by committing this fantastically awful act they were doing something honorable. I wanted to pray…but nothing was coming out of my mind. I know God heard my soul screaming…silently…and heard it crying to be magically transported to New York to catch those safely in my arms who were falling and running and being broken in so many ways. As if my presence would solve anything.
My youth ministry prof – DB, being the amazing and eccentric man he is, decided to hold our Intro to Youth Ministry class. We talked about fear, and how we would discuss an event like this with the students in our youth groups. I was the only person with the courage to admit this scared me. I felt like I was committing a crime as I raised my hand to admit there was fear in my heart. I was at an emotional breaking point. I felt like the world, reality…and nearly my God had left me to stand alone and watch as everything disintegrated into a pile of rubble, carnage, and grief. Every part of my world had been shaken…my personal health, my exterior environment, my campus…my everything.
I lost no one in 9/11 that was close to me. My only tie to those sacrificed to it was that the check intended to cover my tuition was aboard the plane which crashed into the second tower. I’m aware that I am not the only one who experienced these feelings watching my country being attacked. I know because I traveled home that weekend to Washington and saw candle light vigils, American flags, and patriotic posters along I-5 and I-84. I received all the emails, and felt the surge of patriotism that ignited this country more than we’ve been on fire for decades. I felt the unity. I felt the anger. I felt the grief. I felt the need for revenge and the hopelessness as I realized there was no one to direct it towards. I wanted to throw my arms around our President as I watched the footage of the aid informing him of the gash being ripped in his country as he read aloud to children.
It still affects me. I still pray that Bin Laden and Hussein will get justice…and that they will find God’s love. An odd paradox, I know. I left my church of almost 2 years because of the events of Sept 11th. I lost my fear of outright living with all of the atoms of my being because of Sept 11th. I learned helplessness, and hope, and the amazing wonder of watching a people come together. At the same moment…I wanted to gather those numbered souls under my own worthless protection as they were shepherded into eternity. I became a fully aware adult in the same instant that I felt so strongly inclined to cling to my mother and sob. My palisades of comfort crumbled with the foundations of the towers, my invincibility complex crashed with those planes, and my innocence died with those 2,700+ victims of an ordinary day on it’s way to infamy.
Patriot’s Day…Sept 11th