Since it's the 5 year anniversary of 9/11 I thought it would be a good time to re-post what I had written on the 1 year anniversary.
My dad worked at the Pentagon until 2 weeks ago and was there on that day, so even though it's not something that pre-occupies me all the time, it's always on the back of my mind.
I guess like most everyone else in this country, I spent a good part of the day today reflecting over the last year, specifically 9/11/01. I don’t really have a congruous memory of the day – mostly snippets of events, starting with an IM from my friend Shelby telling me about the first plane and ending with getting my dad safely home from the Pentagon. In my mind, looking back, the entire day is compressed down into only a few minutes – but the time between the IM and walking back in the door at home was over 6 1/2 hours.
I remember the IM, then checking the news on the internet, being surprised that it wasn’t one but two planes that had hit.
I remember Juanita calling me to make sure I knew about the Pentagon, I didn’t, and then the agonizing attempts to reach my dad on his cell, in his office, everywhere I could think. Repeating the word “please” over and over in my head the entire time.
I remember wondering around the hall at work chewing my thumb nail, not sure what to do next.
I remember being sure that something else was going to happen once everyone from the Pentagon was outside in the parking lot, so I left work knowing that I wouldn’t feel safe until he was home.
I remember driving down the highway, heading to my parent’s house-which is closer to the Pentagon then my apartment was-and marveling at how empty the roads were, except for a line of police cars or motorcycles that would pass occasionally.
I remember getting to their house, making plans to meet my dad, and realizing I had left my apartment with no money and barely any gas in my car. Going to my mom’s “secret stash” of money and finding only change, counting out $7, putting it in a zip lock bag and heading out.
I remember the incredible traffic on the road leading to the Pentagon, having to pull behind a restaurant in the shade to keep my car from overheating while trying to reach my dad again to make alternate plans.
I remember the sound of an airplane overhead and seeing everyone stop to look up and wonder where it was going.
I remember listening to the news and hearing the unsubstantiated reports – there was a bomb at the State Department, the Capital had been hit...
I remember finally seeing my dad after waiting so long and being so worried. I remember the relief in my mom’s voice when she heard that I got him home.
I remember spending the rest of the day saying a silent “thank you” to God.
I remember the phone ringing every 5 minutes while I was at my parent’s house – to the point where I started answering the phone “he’s ok.”
I remember thinking how lucky it was that I had bought my first cell phone 2 days before.
I remember being obsessed with the news, bringing a radio to work, spending a lot of days looking at news footage until finally breaking down 2 days later.
I remember for the next month, making my dad call me every night as he was heading home and then I could relax.
That night we all drove down to the Pentagon to pick up my dad’s car, we weren’t allowed in to see anything, but we could still see the smoke rising up from the fires.
A week and a half afterwards I went to the memorial outside the Pentagon. Almost the entire lawn was covered with American flags. I remember walking around, solemnly reading the messages people left, but the one that had the biggest effect on me was the bag of toys someone had left for the children on the plane.
The day after, our church had a memorial service of sorts and my dad stayed at home. I remember the people who came up to us afterwards to tell us how crestfallen they were when they saw my mom and me walk in without my dad, and how relieved they were to find out he was ok.
At church tonight during times of silent reflection, I tried to organize all these scenes in my mind to come up with a timeline of what happened. Looking back, parts of it seem like a weird story I once heard. Parts are getting harder and harder to remember.
Last year the air was still and calm, my mom told me that a friend told her that the wind today was the souls of everyone who was killed last year, coming back to visit.
When the first plane struck the first building, God’s heart was the first to break.
Merciful Lord Jesus, give them rest, everlasting rest.