I woke up rather early on September 11, 2001. High school started at 7:45 AM but I had to be to school even earlier for a ballroom practice; ballroom team was during first period and it wasn't unusual for us to be asked to arrive either a half hour to an hour before school started. My friend Andrea was going to pick me up on her way to school even though I lived close enough to walk; usually I would be all ready to go and would run out of the house and hop into her car. This morning, however, she jumped out of her car and ran up to our house.
"A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!" she gasped, "Turn on the radio!"
The radio was buzzing with speculation, as were we. How could someone crash into the World Trade Center? Was the pilot drunk? Was there a major mechanical malfunction? No one knew.
Andrea and I headed to school and our ballroom meeting/practice began. We pushed the morning's news from our minds and focused on the demands of our coach, Alison.
A few minutes after the practice had started, Andrew burst through the ballroom doors. He was running a little bit late, which wasn't unusual for him (and still isn't; he's not much of a morning person), and he had heard more of the story unfold.
"Turn on the TV!" he demanded, "Turn on the TV! Quick!"
It took him a few minutes to convince Alison that we actually should turn on the television. He was so insistent that she finally consented; we flicked it on just in time to see the second plane crash into the South Tower. We shared our shock with the news anchor who had been talking about the North Tower when the second plane exploded into the South Tower. We couldn't believe our eyes. Barely seven o'clock in the morning, but there we were, a bunch of awkward high school students, standing idly in our stilettos and patent leather shoes, our brows knit in absolute bewilderment, while we watched an icon of our nation crumble.
I don't remember taking off my shoes or walking to my next class. Or the next. Or the next. Although, I do remember being in different locations, the television was always on and we were always watching. Except for in English class where my teacher thought it would be better if we discussed our feelings; she gave up on that idea pretty fast. I don't think any of us were feeling yet; we were confused and scared and not ready to discuss anything. She turned the television back on when no one offered any part in the conversation.
Somehow the day ended and the dazed teachers and students were released, only to have to meet back the next morning like it was just another Wednesday. Only it wasn't just another Wednesday; we were all still reeling with shock and disbelief. But there were classes to go to, homework to turn in, jobs to be done. Life went on.
That seems to be the way tragedies work.
It only feels like the world stops spinning but regular life carries on with or without you and if you don't pick up the pieces and move on you get left behind.
I didn't really feel like writing about 9/11 today. This year I feel like my early September is pock-marked with tragedy. I am tired of tragedies and conflict right now. The passing of my friend Ryan last Thursday rocked my world a little and reminded me how little control we have over what happens in life; I've been consumed with grief for Katie and the rest of his (and her) family. But they all seem to be handling the situation so well.
My dad had a aortic aneurysm about two years ago and went in for emergency open-heart surgery on the night of August 31. The first few weeks of September were rocky for my family. Somehow we managed to handle it, though. When I finally reached my mom by phone for an update (after leaving the hospital to get Josie from her friend's house) she choked out, "Well, they found a hole; he's being prepped for open-heart surgery right now..." my world stopped spinning so suddenly that I almost fell off.
But somehow you catch up. Somehow you manage to hold on. Somehow you keep going. Somehow you get through the sleepless nights and the bedside vigil and stress. Somehow, piece by piece, your life gets put back together. That 'somehow' is faith; it works miracles.
And before I get sappier and sappier, I should clarify that September isn't all that bad. Rachel's blessing day was September 2nd, 2007--I've always felt a bit bad that that day is so overshadowed in my memory by my dad's emergency, but it was a good day nonetheless. And September is Andrew's birthday month! So there you go.