I have vivid memories of 9/11/01 as do most people who lived through it. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I remember feeling like I was in a daze after hearing the news. I didn’t want to believe it was really true. How could this happen? Why did it happen? I remember experiencing a type of fear that was unknown to me. I remember wanting to get back to my husband, who I had just said goodbye to. I remember wanting to run to my kids’ schools and snatch them out of their classrooms and bring them home. I remember praying to God and asking him “WHY?”
I was taking a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd course at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville. It was to be the first day of our class. My husband, who was on his way back home from downtown, decided he would meet me in the parking lot. We met, talked a few minutes, gave each other a hug and a kiss, and then went our separate ways. He got in his truck to head home and I headed into the church. Little did either of us know what was happening at that exact moment in time. I walked in the church and the employee in the lobby behind the desk had a TV on. A plane had just crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It was just an accident though…. of course it was…. just an accident. Then news came in about the 2nd plane hitting the South Tower. That’s when all of our fears sky-rocketed. We now knew this was no horrible accident. By this time there was a small crowd around the TV. We were all trying to understand. Then the news came in about the plane hitting The Pentagon. I will never forget the woman behind the desk looking at the TV and announcing to us all that “our nation was under attack.” Those words sent chills up my spine. The teachers of our class started discussing whether we should cancel class or stay and proceed as planned. One said we should cancel as everyone probably wanted to be home with their families, and another said we should stay because after all we were in a church and we were safe. Then the employee behind the desk pointed out that the church we were in was right across the street from the Federal Building. I remember wanting to run out the door, jump in my car and speed home when she said that. Then one of the priests walked up and announced that there was going to be a prayer service in the chapel in just a few minutes for those who wanted to attend. So we all went and stood in a circle and prayed. I was comforted… at least for the moment anyway. After the prayer service, the teachers decided we would cancel class and all go home. The 40 minute drive home seemed like it took hours. I had the radio on and was just beginning to understand the magnitude of it all. I drove by the tallest downtown buildings praying I wouldn’t see a low-flying plane. I got home and found my husband in bed. I woke him up. He had not heard what was going on. We were glued to the TV for hours. We learned about the 4th jet that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. I wanted to get our two sons, ages 8 and barely 11 out of school. Not that I feared for their safety, but more because I just wanted to hug them and hold them. I wanted our family all together. By this time the news anchors were already interviewing psychologists on TV who were giving their opinions on getting kids out of school, talking to kids about what had happened, etc. My husband and I decided we would leave the boys in school. Like others, we were glued to the TV all day and all night. We were glued to the TV for days. I remember all the emotions… the denial, the shock, the anger, the fear. It was so hard talking to my boys about something that I didn’t understand myself. And it was hard answering their questions. My youngest son’s school had a scholastic book club later where we purchased a book called Understanding September 11th. We read it together but we still didn’t understand September 11th any better. I decided there is just no understanding that day, for me anyway. I can’t understand all the hatred.
I often write to let my feelings out. I wrote a Letter to the Editor in our local newspaper about a month and a half after September the 11th. I guess that was one of the ways I grieved. I found that letter the other day tucked away in a drawer and read it. It brought back all the emotions of how I felt while trying to recover from that horrible day.
I guess most people remember exactly what they were doing that day and where they were. And like me, I imagine a lot of people remember being glued to the TV for days… Trying to understand something that is not understandable. When my youngest son was in the 6th grade, his Social Studies teacher gave the class a project where they had to make a scrapbook about September 11, 2001. We found magazines with pictures, we read about it on the internet and my son put together a nice scrapbook. I found that scrapbook today and looked through it. I felt those familiar cold chills up my spine. And I found myself once again trying to understand. But I don’t. I am grateful that teacher made her students do the scrapbook though. Even though my son was only 8 years old when it happened, he will never forget. And I wouldn’t want him to.