Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

I almost didn't write anything about 9/11, because it's hard to know exactly what to say. It's almost too big to write about -- too significant for someone as insignificant as me.

I was one of the lucky ones; I didn't lose any family members or friends that day. I did, however, lose a sense of comfort and peace I had once had. Suffice it to say, we all did.

I will never forget that day. Really, who will? I will never forget how it made me feel; not just the obvious sadness and devastation, but that sense that we were no longer safe.

I work for the Department of Defense, on a base that houses the biggest research & development lab in the country. At the time, my toddler was part of the base's daycare, and my son, a part of their afterschool care program. Remember what happened to the daycare center in the Oklahoma City Federal Building when it was bombed in 1995? Yeah, me, too. After 9/11, I wasn't sure I could ever comfortably return to work again, or send my children to their daycares again. What if a terrorist targeted our base? I wondered. It wasn't that far-fetched, really. I felt as if the rug was literally pulled out from under me--from all of us--and I wondered if we'd ever feel as normal or safe as we once had.

I guess after any tragedy our sense of "normal" changes. Whether it's the assasination of a president, the space shuttle exploding in the sky, a tsunami wiping out thousands, a hurricane changing everyone's world, or some cowardly terrorists doing the unthinkable -- "normal" gets readjusted. It's probably why we all remember precisely where we were when those tragedies occurred.

Nowadays, I feel a little safer, but I am reminded of 9/11 every day when I go through the crazy barricaded obstacle course that leads up to our gate guards; I am reminded when I can't park within 50 feet of all the buildings where I do business; I am reminded every morning at 8:00am when the national anthem is broadcast from the base headquarters.

I feel blessed that I don't have to live in New York City, Washington, D.C., or Pennsylvania, and be reminded by bigger, more blaringly obvious things. How empty it must be to see where the Twin Towers once stood; how unnerving to look at the Pentagon and recall the day when a section of it was on fire; how heartbreaking to see that field in Pennsylvania and imagine those innocent passengers putting up the fight of their lives. I feel blessed that I didn't know one, single person that perished that day.

And yet, in a way, we kind of knew them all. They were just like us: moms and dads, daughters and sons, friends and co-workers. Just everyday people trying to go about their lives--not knowing that, in a brief instant, all of it would end. Forever.

There's really nothing more to add... I'm just sending up prayers, asking God to protect us all, and to please comfort those most affected by that tragic and horrific event that took place seven years ago today.


Rebeckah said...

A few minutes ago I commented on a blog that it was my favorite tribite to 9.11. But, now this is. This was so beautifully written. I am thankful your family was safe. Thanks for this great post! Really touching! Hope you have a blessed weekend!

Suz said...

this is beautiful. Well put.
I too was lucky not to lose anyone personally that day, but we all felt a huge loss. And still do.