On September 11, 2001, I received a call from my husband at Coast Guard HQ, Washinginton, DC, telling me something had happened in New York. Could I turn on the TV and see what exactly was going on?
Oh, it was no small plane. Watching in horror, the second one hit. Then a bit later the attack on the Pentagon shook the ground. I could see the smoke from my upstairs window. I could no longer reach my husband by phone...or anyone. For some reason people could call me but I could not call them, and so I asked family to call about every 30 minutes to check in. At the moment I wasn't sure we wouldn't need to evacuate.
Four weeks and two days earlier I had given birth to our son. I held him in my arms all day. I cried, and panicked privately that this was the day that his small life could be cut short. I didn't want to put him down for even a second. Standing in my kitchen with tears streaming down my face I stared into his tiny face and wondered--should I try to get out of town to safety? Should I stay and wait for his dad to get home? What on earth has fate brought you to? What world awaits you, small boy? Amidst those swirling thoughts--he smiled at me. It was only his second smile, the first had come just a morning or two earlier when we awoke--he had wrinkled his nose and lit up his eyes at me. A strange sense of calm washed over me and I knew that no matter what was coming, for that day, we would be okay.
Today, ten years later I sat in church with that boy beside me. I remembered that beautiful, horrible day, that moment, every thought that had surged through my head. We prayed the litany of remembrance for 9/11. I am caught by grief every time I remember that day, but I thank God for this--it changed my perspective forever. I cannot, and will not take the moments of loving and holding my children and my husband for granted. I cannot, and will not expect that we have a right for things to go as we hope and imagine they will. I cannot, and will not place myself as judge and jury over the sins of my friend, my neighbor, my countryman, a foreigner, or my enemies. I will make no claim to know what God has in store, but will walk by faith every day, trusting that I am his and he will never leave me nor forsake me.
We grieve those who were lost. We must not forget to humbly embrace those who remain, and steward each day with great care.