Every once in a while a perfectly normal day is shattered. The small, mundane details of life like eating breakfast, washing dishes, taking your kids to school or going to work are interrupted by something so significant, something so tragic, you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing at the time. That is what those of us who remember, experienced last Wednesday, September 11.
As I was driving to an appointment last week, I was listening to a radio program. The two gentlemen and a woman were talking about what they were doing the day that the World Trade Center was attacked. I could relate to the woman. She said that all she wanted to do was leave work and get to her babies.
I was in the gym, walking on the treadmill, when the first plane hit. At that point it seemed like an accident, that perhaps a small sightseeing plane had veered off course. I went into my exercise class but when it was over, we all knew something was terribly wrong. Everyone in the gym had stopped their workouts and were frozen, looking at the bank of televisions. I walked out to my car, numb and shaking and burst into tears as soon as I closed my car door. All I wanted to do was get to my kids.
My two children were in the fifth and seventh grades at a nearby school. My first instinct was to drive to the school and check them out. Once I gave it some thought I decided to go home first to see what was truly happening. After many tears and feeling of disbelief, I showered and changed clothes.
It was not uncommon for parents to visit their children for lunch at our small Christian school so I decided to “drop by” to check on my daughter, a fifth grader. I grabbed us something from a drive-through and surprised her for lunch. Thankfully, everything seemed ok. I don’t know that the elementary students understood the gravity of the situation but there were many shell-shocked parents in the cafeteria that day, all trying to hold it together for the sake of their children.
That’s all I remember about that day. It’s my “where were you the day it happened?” story.
Generations before ours had their own “where were you when” stories. It seems like whenever a national tragedy occurs, the normal, mundane activities we were involved in become seared in our minds.
For the generation before us, it was “Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated.” The generation before that it was “Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor or when World War II ended?” For another generation they may have memories of what they were doing when they heard the Titanic sank or the stock market crashed.
I wonder if, in the ancient world, citizens of Israel spoke of what they were doing when they heard Jesus was crucified. Did they remember what they were doing when the sky grew dark and the earth trembled? What about when they heard the news of his resurrection? Years later, did gray-haired grandmas and grandpas regale their families with stories of how they remembered exactly what they were doing at the time?
Given human nature and history, we are unfortunately bound to have more of these significant events that sear themselves into our memory. But, one day, that too will end and we will live in a new place of peace with our Lord and Savior. The older I get, the more I look forward to that day.