September 11, 2001. A day I will never forget, nor understand.
I was sitting in my office in Westerville, OH going about my day. All of a sudden a woman walked hurriedly by saying something about "we've been attacked". I didn't know what she was talking about. I went into one of the rooms with a TV and looked up & saw a plane flying into the World Trade Center. My first thought was "Oh my God, that poor pilot" because surely the pilot must have had a heart attack & went off course & the plane ACCIDENTALLY flew into the tower. I assumed it was a small plane - not a jumbo jet. I worried about the pilot, the [probably few] people on the plane and certainly for the people in the office building. Undoubtedly some people were hurt - if not killed. "Lord Have Mercy" , I thought.
But then, another plane went into the building & I realized that "we" were being attacked. Now I am simply mad! Who the hell would fly a plane into the WTC? What the hell is wrong with people? Are human beings just getting more ignorant and cruel by the second? Grrrrr! Whatever idiots were flying those planes surely didn't have a beef with all the people inside the buildings or the city that I love so much! How dare they destroy so many lives in the blink of an eye! I don't give a crap what happened to them that upset them! How dare they????!!!! Idiots!!!
Then I saw the towers begin to crumble, people screaming and running in terror. I saw the firefighters and police officers doing their jobs & knew that each of them were in harms way.
And I thought of Sammy--the man who I married & bore 3 sons with. The marriage that years later collapsed and shattered my heart into a million pieces - leaving me hurt and angry at him, his family & the whole messed up situation. At that moment - at the moment I saw the towers begin to crumble, I worried about that man. He was a NYC police officer. He could be down there in that mess, that rubble. My children had already lost him once through our less than amicable divorce... my God, were they going to loose him to death? Death at the hands of idiots, no less! Everything in me now turned from anger for the idiots flying the planes & compassion for the people who had died... to terror!
Terror not borne of fear for my life, but terror that came from the possibility that my children may loose their father! "Dear Lord", I prayed, "PLEASE TAKE CARE OF SAMMY!" Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the possibility that my boys would have to endure any more pain. Hadn't their lives been difficult enough by the divorce, by me moving, getting sick, being poor, etc., etc., etc. "Please God" I continued to pray, "please don't do this to my boys". And so I tried to call him but the lines were down. I called every relative and friend I had in the NYC area (which were all my relatives!). Couldn't get through.
So I went home. To be with my boys. To pray and pray and pray! To ask the Blessed Mother to pray for Sammy's safety. To ask the Holy Spirit to guide Sammy's footsteps. To ask St. Michael to protect him from death. To ask God to spare my children this pain.
We sat around the TV watching the horror show over and over--- it was painful, but we could not look away. I recalled the bombing at the WTC years earlier & the smugness I'd felt in 1993 ("of course 'they' can't take down the WTC with a bomb! Idiots! ") I didn't feel very smug now... quite the contrary... vulnerable!
Two days past before we would hear from our family. No immediate family members were lost - but we all seemed to know someone who either worked in the towers, or was a fire fighter, police officer or paramedic who was hurt or killed. No one had talked to Sammy... not even Stacey. And as I realized that Sammy may indeed be hurt, the pain and anger of the divorce subsided and I was recalling only good memories of this man who I had once loved. I was remembering all his good qualities... all those reasons why I had said "I do" so many years earlier. My pain from the past dissolved. Unconsciously, I let the past go.
My heart grew heavy - even as I assured my boys "don't worry, your dad is fine! He is just busy & can't get to a phone. He is helping people." They didn't believe me and with every hours' passing I was beginning to not believe me.
And just as all hope was beginning to slip away, he called! Alive, safe, unharmed.... he had been in Staten Island when this all occurred - in the station house --- the "1 - 2 - 0" as the cops called it - doing paperwork! Thank You God!
Relief swept my entire being. The boys relaxed. I said a prayer of thanksgiving; and then went back to praying for the dead - for the innocent and the "guilty". I turned the horror show off & rather than dwelling on "those horrible people", I began to dwell on all the children who would be without their parent. And I prayed for them.
I still pray for them today & for all children who have lost a parent.
I have come to realize that while I have not given my children the idyllic life that I dreamed of giving them, they are still fortunate because regardless of anything else, they have always had their parents - parents who love them with every breath we breathe.
Today I continue to pray for the children who lost their parent to this senseless violence. I continue to thank God for sparing Sammy the wrath of death. And I thank God for allowing me to let go of the pain of the past.
I will never understand why any of this occurred - but I continue to believe that God has a plan--- for the living and dead. He is the writer who does not need backspace, delete or spell check.
HE'S got this...