Word of those horrible attacks on American soil first reached me while I was at work.
I was in my (second) senior year at UGA, preparing to graduate at the end of the semester. I was newly engaged to my sweetheart of three years. That Tuesday morning I was in between teaching classes at the gymnastics facility where I worked part-time. Morning classes were my favorite because it brought in the mommies and preschoolers. The director called me up after my first class to tell me what was going on. My first thought was disbelief. I shudder to think about it now, but I recall I may have even chuckled at how unbelievable it all seemed.
You see I had been standing atop one of those towers a mere two months earlier. Sunday, July 15, 2001 to be exact. A day that up until then had been remarkable for its ending atop the Empire State Building where I said yes to a boy down on one knee. But two months later, all I could think about was how that same day had started in lower Manhattan with a trip to see Lady Liberty and Top of the World, the observation deck atop the South tower.
I can still remember talking with the few moms that did show up for the next class. One who had been watching when the second plane hit. I recall her saying she went numb and became glued to the unbelieveable scene unfolding in front of her. She said she didn't want to move, but realized it wasn't good for her 3 year-old to sit and watch her that way, so she had decided to come to class.
My afternoon classes at UGA were cancelled as were so many other things that day and the rest of the week. We went from shock and disbelief to a nation in mourning. Eventually we rallied...united with hope. Not a second went by that we weren't hearing about another account of a last-minute voice mail or an account of a first-responder who dashed into the flames. Not a day went by that we weren't flooded with the thoughts of the thousands of spouses, children, parents and loved ones who had lost their beloved husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters...
I can't pinpoint when it happened, but at some point a day arrived when I didn't think about it. You can decide if that's good or bad. Sure it was time to heal, but for those families that lost loved ones that day of healing may have come too soon.
About four or five years later, I returned to the city that never sleeps. It was a sombering experience to walk around what was now called Ground Zero. What was once a bustling home to economy was now a big hole full of dirt, concrete and construction equipment.
At some point, I'm sure I'll have to explain what happened that day ten years ago to a pair of curious boys. It will be impossible not to recall where I was, what I was doing and what I first thought of as I struggle to give meaning to a senseless act of evil. But, thankfully, I don't have to have all the answers.
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. Job 37:5