Today is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, September 11, 2001. In some ways, it seems like such a long time ago. In others, just yesterday. I suppose, most of us who were adults on that fateful day will remember every September the 11th until we reach the end of our lives.
I try to post my blog every Saturday night. In thinking about what to post this week, I couldn’t get past the obvious. It is such a momentous anniversary we are marking. I don’t know about you but with the state of our world and the recent events in Afghanistan, I feel like I’m holding my breath today; wondering if a terrorist is going to use this anniversary to inflict more pain.
Being a mom, my recollections always go to how I felt as a mom on September 11, 2001. I believe we mom’s have an innate sense to protect our children from the time they are in the womb until we take our last breath, even though they are old enough to take care of themselves. The loss of life on that September day is staggering; from the twin towers and the streets of NYC to the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania to the passenger jets used as weapons. So much loss and heartache for so many people. But, my mom heart is especially tender towards all the moms who lost children that day. I can’t even imagine.
Following is my “where were you” story. You may remember it from last year. I wrote a similar post the year before. You can read it here. I think it’s a good thing to share and read each others stories about that day. It was such a huge event we collectively felt a part of. I pray that we can feel that sense of collectiveness and unity again as a nation but most importantly, that it would not take another terrorist attack to do so.
September 11, 2001
We all have a “where were you when it happened” story. That Tuesday morning, I had dropped my two children, a fifth grader and a seventh grader, off at school and went to the gym for a class. I started off walking on the treadmill. There was a bank of television sets you could watch and I saw one of the news stations reporting a plane crash into one of the World Trade Center Towers. It was terrible news but I assumed it was a small plane, maybe a sightseeing flight, that had gone off course.
I went to my class which lasted about thirty minutes. When the class ended and we filed out, we noticed people standing around watching the bank of television sets. No one was exercising. The monitors, showed the twin towers billowing with smoke and the replay of another plane slamming into the second tower. At that point, we knew we were under attack.
I left the gym and hurried to my car. As soon as I shut the car door, I burst into tears. How could something like this happen?
My immediate thoughts were of my children. Were they safe? Were there going to be more attacks? Where were the next targets? All I wanted to do was get to my kids and hold onto them, to protect them from this tragedy.
I went home and watched the news coverage of the unfolding events with my husband. Two more planes crashed. More innocent lives lost. I shed quite a few tears in disbelief.
In Mama Bear Mode
At the school my children attended, it was not uncommon for parents to join their children for lunch. I really wanted to see for myself that my two were okay, so I went through a drive-thru and bought a lunch for my fifth grade daughter. The students seemed okay but the expressions on the faces of the other parents showed the strain of trying to be strong for their children. Satisfied that my two were in the best place, I went home and spent the rest of the afternoon glued to the news on television.
I don’t remember much else about that day. I remember feeling afraid, wondering what all of this meant and what would happen next. I knew I needed to be strong for my children, to calm their fears. One of the things that hit us was remembering our fun, spring break trip to Washington D.C. just six months before. We were sad that our nation’s capitol wasn’t spared in this attack.
It Doesn’t End With The Empty Nest
As good parents, we have built-in drive to protect our children, no matter what. I spent a decade trying to protect them from accidents and illnesses. Then, on September 11, 2001, that need to protect felt even stronger. There have been other times over the years when I was ready to drop everything to run to their aid; my son’s senior year of college, at the University of Alabama, when a massive tornado devastated Tuscaloosa, when my daughter was alone in New York after her husband had to be hospitalized, every spring when tornados threaten, when the pandemic shut everything down, even when they are simply ill.
Both of my children are married now and live in different states. Even so, that protective mother’s spirit never disappears. It’s not my place to run to them now, but, I can run to my heavenly Father in prayer for my four grown-up children, and I do, often. I guess you never stop being a mom.