11 September 2007

Forever changed

Six years ago today I was a bright-eyed and slight overwhelmed, 21 year old PE teacher about to begin the seventh day of her first real job. My class was awaiting instructions when one of my co-workers came in and quietly whispered in my ear, there was an accident- a plane flew into one of the Trade Center buildings.

I tried to hide my cringe because I was teaching less than one-hour from New York City. My father's business was largely conducted in NYC and he often spent time in these towers, though I knew he was not there this day. As I gave instructions I wondered what had happened and hoped no one I knew was involved.As the lesson continued there was another message, it was bad.

We couldn't have known how bad it truly was going to be.

When my class was over I returned to the office I shared with three other teachers. We turned on the radio and instantaneously heard, a second plane has flown into the Trade Center; both towers have been hit. We all stood silent and shocked; then immediately turned off the radio. This was not news fifty middle-school girls should be hearing as they got changed to resume their day.

We pretended. We went about our day in stunned shock. The towers had fallen, the pentagon had been hit, and there was a plane down in a Pennsylvania field; many were missing, even more had been killed. Parents flocked to the school and pulled their children out fearing the worst was occurring. Students began to question what was going on; I could not answer. I so badly wanted to answer but, alas it was not my place. How could I; someone who barely considered herself an adult, explain to these children what had happened. I didn't understand it myself.

The day was over and we all rushed home. I sat glued to the television not able to understand why all of this had happened. I didn't have any students who lost parents but their grief and sorrow was still immeasuarable.

They had just learned that their world would be forever changed.
I did not know 3M on September 11, 2001 but I did know one of his friends. 3M's friend Brad was dating one of the girls I shared an office with and I remember her coming in to work the next day telling me that the squadron the guys were in may be headed, to the fight. At the time I was so upset for her. How hard it must be, how scared she must feel. I didn't understand what loving someone in the military was about. I couldn't grasp that fear.

Little did I know that I would have all to good of an understanding.
On September 11, 2006 3M began his MiTT training in preparation for his deployment to Iraq. It was the first day of a very long 15 months. He was preparing to go to the fight; I was scared.

This time 3M wouldn't be in a jet, he would be on the ground- in one of the most dangerous cities in all of Iraq. He would be fulfilling a mission I didn't completely understand but knew was extremely risky. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know how to react.

I spent the day thinking of my students; those young faces who began their day, five years ago, carefree and by its conclusion were forever changed.

I truly understood how they were feeling on that morning. I felt as if I would never be the same. What if this was the beginning of the end of our fairy tale? What if this mission was too dangerous? Would my life still be my own this time next year?

I could not bear to think about 365 days from September 11th because I was so unspeakably terrified that my world would be forever different.
September 11, 2007 began with a "mama?" from my little man. He was awake and ready to start the day. He did not know that so many would be grieving on this day. He doesn't remember that his Daddy was not here this time last year. He wanted to smile and play with his dogs. His world had not changed at all ; it was the same wonderful adventure as it had been the day before.

We have made it 365 days. We have survived the training, the hotels, the tears, the laughters, the attack, and the triumphs. We are still here. We have begun our countdown and I finally feel like I can truly move forward without being fearful of changes that life may bring.

Undoubtedly my life was forever changed on September 11, 2001 and again on September 11, 2006. I have learned to be stronger, love harder, and believe that no matter where this road takes us or how this journey unfolds, forever changed is not always a bad thing. Forever changed means there is still time to begin again- to learn, to grow, to love.

1 comment:

Alicia said...

Touching. Very touching.