I was working in the school store at Norfolk Collegiate. A dear friend called me to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade center. Since NYC is my favorite town, many people contact me when something interesting happens there. I assumed it was one of the small planes that have, at times, hit skyscrapers accidentally. I remember her saying "No, it's not like that. It's a big plane- on purpose."
The phone seemed cold in my hand as we hung up. She was on her way to school. I was finished there for the morning, but I wasn't going anywhere. Not when my kids were in a school less than 3 miles from the largest naval base in the world. We had no idea whether we were next.
As the news of more attacks was reported, more parents showed up at the school. Some took their kids home, others waited together by a few TVs that were tuned to CNN. After the Pentagon was hit, the fear became even more evident. Our area could very well be the next target. I recall staring at the images and having to remind myself to breathe. We were stunned, in shock. I remember the rest of the day as one of small scenes. Prayers, tears, confused silence. I took this attack personally and I have still never fully accepted the pain of September 11.
My first trip to New York was in high school. I didn't go up in the towers with the rest of the group. I walked around the area, watching the people and breathing in the city. It was March, and very windy. The employees had difficulty opening the doors as the wind created a vacuum effect as it blew between the enormous buildings. I remember having a brief exchange with a maid about how hard it was to open the doors. Afterward, I thought how nice she was and how New Yorkers weren't all rude, as some people think. I don't regret not going up in the tower. I'm thankful I have a happy memory on what is now hallowed ground.
It was a very fragile time for me, after suffering the loss of my mother and having endured an extremely tumultuous time in the years prior to her death. New York represented a city that was so big, and so strong, and so alive that any pain or fear or anxiety would be in the shadow of the giant towers that represented life and power. How could you have time for your fears and pain in a city that was so intense? I loved both the beauty and the beast that were New York and was thrilled years later when I introduced my husband to it. He found his own reasons for being drawn to this city, so our kids were soon indoctrinated as well.
As with any crisis, we go through the necessary motions to get through our day, our week, our years. We grieve and mourn losses, pray for those left behind, and move forward, vowing to be different. We look to our only source of constant Love, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is in Him and through Him that we succeed and grow. As it is with gold, these hard times refine and purify us so that we can continue the work that is set before us. We draw closer the ones we love. We hold each other a little tighter, and pray for strength and guidance. And we never, ever forget.