On the morning of September 11th 2001, I was a young 21 year old, so excited to be starting my career as a second-grade teacher; life couldn't be better. I was in the middle of a lesson, when one of the resource teachers appeared at my door, nodding to come over to her. When she told me what had happened (at that point, just the one tower had fallen), it didn't seem to register at that moment. I had no idea the magnitude of what had happened, and in my little world, I just assumed it was some horrific accident; terrorists never entered my mind. It certainly affected me more over the next days and weeks after, but I have to admit that over the years on 9/11, I would say a prayer, and pause to reflect, but I didn't spend days mourning all over again like I did in 2001.
Until this year.
September 11, 2011 has hit me hard. Ten years ago, I mourned for the country. I mourned for the fact that the world will never feel the same. I mourned for the lives lost, and their loved ones left behind. But at the time, I had never experienced a tragic loss in my life, so I don't think I fully grasped that kind of pain.
So much has changed since that day. Some life-changing events. I got married. I had kids. I lost a close friend.Three things that have made me more aware of the personal stories behind 9/11, and not just the country as a whole. I've watched the specials that have aired this weekend. I've listened to the widows as they describe their husbands. Husbands who sound a lot like mine. I've heard them talk about the way their kids would race to the door when Daddy got home, and I picture my trio as they do that every night when their daddy comes in. I listened as they describe telling their kids that Daddy won't be coming home, and the heartbreaking responses, like, "can we call him on his cell phone?" I listened to the parents who have buried their child. They show pictures of them, smiling ear to ear, and describe the joy they brought to their lives over the years. These are the stories that broke my heart 10 years ago, but rock me to my core today. The loss these families experienced is more than I can wrap my brain around. Their courage and strength truly amazes me.
I have recently gotten to know a friend whose best friend was on Flight 93. She went to the Shanksville Ceremony this weekend, and she is one of the people I can't get out of my mind this weekend. One of my dearest friends passed away in 2005, so I now know how painful it is to lose a wonderful friend. I didn't in 2001. The moment you hear those words is one you'll never forget. It is life-changing, and you are never the same. Years go by, and you are able to smile again, but you are never the same. There is a hole that will never be filled. And every time you go through something in your life, like marriage, having kids, you think of her, and wonder why isn't she here, going through this stuff too? I see my new friend's pictures on Facebook, of her standing next to her friend's name on the wall in Shanksville, and my heart breaks. That kind of loss...well, there simply are no words.
10 years. I'm older, I'm wiser, and therefore I'm sadder. My heart goes out to every life affected by 9/11/01, the day we were forever changed. To the heroes we lost, and to the heroes with us today, I promise you will never be forgotten. And we are forever grateful.