We just marked another anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, September 11, 2001. It’s hard to believe it has almost been twenty years. 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.
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.