Friday, September 9, 2011

Ten Years

Ten years ago I was waking up with a terrible hangover. The night before my best friend had gotten married. It was the last wedding of our small group of friends and we all celebrated like it was our own. My head hurt, my eyes were glued together and all I could remember was that I needed to catch a flight home that day. So I hurriedly packed my bag, yanked a brush through my next-day wedding hair, tried to scrape the mascara from my eyelashes and ran out the door to meet Sean.

I got back to Denver late that night and was up early on September 10 to get to work. That evening, I spoke to my friends and we laughed about our weekend, replayed the bridesmaid's dance number for the bride and groom, and promised to talk again soon.

The next morning I made coffee and began my 45 minute commute to work. While the early sun shined through my windows the always calm voices of NPR were giving me the morning news. And then everything changed.

First the reports out of New York. When the first plane struck, we had a few minutes to believe it was a mechanical malfunction gone nightmarishly wrong. Nothing more than a terrible, terrible accident. But as I listened in horror another plane torpedoed into the second tower. I sat alone in my car, surrounded by morning rush-hour traffic, feeling alone, angry and indescribably sad.

Then the Pentagon. And then Pensylvania.

When I was a child my parents could recall every detail of their day when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I only remembered it from video, pictures and in the memories of others. But they remembered what they ate, what they wore, who they talked to and where they stood at the moment they found out.

That is September 11 for me and everyone else who has shared in the memory of that day. Along with my co-workers, friends, family and strangers I cried for the terror of the men, women and children on the planes and in the buildings. I mourn for every person who lost a loved one that terrible morning. We all shared in the grief. But too many carried the burden of surviving it and moving on.

I was in New York this past spring with those same college girl friends. We are all married now with 12 children between us. While in New York we went to Ground Zero and visited St. Paul's Chapel. I walked around the 200 year-old church grounds and gazed through the beautiful trees and ancient gravestones to where the towers once stood. While the city lay stunned and hurting, this small chapel and so many volunteers provided shelter, comfort, relief, and love to the rescue workers and victims of that day. I stood in the cemetery and cried as though it had just happened.

Sunday is September 11 and it will have been 10 years since that day. But I remember it as clearly now as if it happened yesterday.

Did that day change me? Did that day change you? I know that it forever shifted my view of the world and my place in it. I am relieved that ten years have passed because we can allow time to blur the shock and horror of that day, but it will never be forgotten.

Today I wished my dear friend a Happy Anniversary and smiled as I recalled the wedding, my friends, the dancing, and all the laughter of the evening. There is so much good in our world. So on September 11, I will pray for peace. Peace for those hurting, peace for those who remember, peace for so many still angry.





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