I was pregnant and tired, sleeping in on that Tuesday morning, since my firstborn was still resting in her crib. I ached, my head hurt and I felt I could sleep another 10 hours straight.
But the phone kept ringing in the kitchen. And there were voices on the answering machine (yes, back then we had answering machines). And they didn’t sound right. Staccato words echoed into my bedroom.
“Goodness, someone needs something. Sounds like someone is upset.” I thought as I threw back the covers and trudged, barefoot, into the kitchen.
I pushed ‘play’.
And the whole world changed with the voice on the recording.
The rest of the day was spent sitting on the living room couch, mouth open, tears streaming, as I watched the events unfold.
Emelie toddled through the room and said,
“Planes go boom, Mommy?”
Fast forward to this morning. I yelled a hearty goodbye to my 8th grader, as she waited for her ride to school. I dropped off my 6th grader, reminding him to bring home his trumpet, and to “do something good for someone today, will ya?”
Then, I walked my two little girls into their elementary school. My second grader skipped down the hall, telling me everyone’s back-history. “Mommy, that teacher is the one who wiped my lip when I bit it on the playground. That’s the one who likes to play on the computers. Mommy. That coach is always silly.” And she skipped on to her classroom, after I dropped a little sign of the cross on the back of her neck.
My youngest, the kindergartener, is not so easy in the mornings. Still, after over 2 weeks, her head droops as she hangs up her backpack. She really just “wants to stay home and watch cartoons”. Her smiling teacher took her hand, “Come on Colleen! We’re going to have a great day!” she said, leading her into the room. A little 5 year old voice rang out, “Oh, don’t cry Colleen, it’ll be okay!”
And then the voice on the intercom rose up, “Let us all take a minute to remember September 11th.”
The kindergarten teacher quietly told the class, “Children, please stand up. Come on, let’s all get on our feet.”
And holding onto my daughters little hand, she looked out the window.
I walked back into the hallway and leaned against the wall, staring at the kindergarten artwork pinned to the walls. Gingerbread men, lined up in rows. Cheery backpacks on hooks. A neat basket full of lunchboxes.
And 6 classrooms quiet.
I prayed my hail marys and, once the 60 seconds were done, walked out of the school. I checked my watch. 8:03 AM Texas time. The time when the second plane hit.
and I took this photo.
And my heart welled. Not with anger, or even sadness. But remembering all those faces. The people who were gone now, these past 12 years. And I am certain that they would say to us, not just to remember September 11, 2001, but to remember those we love. To love, in a crazy and fearless way. That life is so much more than work and tasks and chores and worries. It’s cliche, I know. But true, in a heartrending way.
So, if we do anything today, maybe we can
listen a little more closely,
hold a hug a few seconds longer,
lay in the dark in our child’s bed as they fall asleep,
hold our spouse’s hand like we did when we were dating,
say a prayer and then say another, just listening.
and offer up our day for those whose hearts are broken and for those who are gone forever.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.