Days like today I am especially thankful for being blessed with Turner. When I dropped him off at daycare, he clung to my neck. When I put him down, he turned around and grabbed my legs and tried to climb back up into my arms. I hate leaving him. It breaks my heart. But I am so extremely grateful because I know that today at 5 p.m., I will be able to go get him and everything will be perfect and sweet.
13 years ago I was sitting in my eight grade classroom. We were watching the daily kids news show that always came on the old, oversized Tvs that were fixed into the walls. The news, that usually covered healthy lunch topics and newest locker trends, cut to a serious report. A real news report. A plan had crashed into the World Trade Center. The United States was under attack. I didn’t even know what that meant.
While watching the TV, totally confused as to what I was being told, I watched as a second plane crashed into the towers. Was this real? What was happening? My best friend was in tears. Her grandfather worked in those towers in New York. Although we were in North Carolina, that attack hit home quickly. A teacher threw open our classroom door and called out to Shannon. She got up from her desk and left. It wasn’t until later that we found out that her grandfather had retired just days before the attack, and although his family feared he was in the towers retrieving his belongs when the planes struck, he was actually home safe. He was one of the lucky ones. So many others were not.
I wasn’t even a teenager. My small, innocent world didn’t even know what the word terrorist meant. I had no clue was was unraveling around me. It wasn’t long before my mother came to get my sisters and I from school. I didn’t understand that either. I had a volleyball game that night and I was starting, I couldn’t miss it. My mother assured me the game would be cancelled, even though I didn’t believe her. That seemed crazy. We went straight to church. People were crying. They were praying. They were grasping onto each other as if it was the end of the world. And what I didn’t understand then, but completely realize now, is that it very well could have been.
Our nation was under attack. We were living through something that was unheard of for our generation. American soil was supposed to be safe and secure, how could this happen? It was devastating. It was confusing. It was real.
The days following we were glued to the television hoping for answers. Hoping for a promise of safety and reason not to worry. While our troops were rallying and preparing for a fight that is still continuing today, my family joined families all across America clinging to each other and hoping for solitude.
So on days like today, when I now have a family of my own. When I have a real being birthed from my own breath, I now know more than ever, and believe deeper and feel greater than I ever thought I could 13 years ago. My father and mother’s frantic, even manic reaction makes complete sense. They feared for their children before they feared for anything else. Their only thought was to hold us close. To physically guard us with their own lives.
Looking back, if I were in their shoes, I would have done the same. So today, when I get to go to Turner and pick up him, I will cling tight to him. Not because of a fear that I might lose him, but because I am thankful that for today, I have no reason to worry. He is safe. We are safe. This nation, although troubled, lost, and uncertain, is safe today.
Every day since September 11, 2001, we have grown a little stronger, stood a little taller, and become a little closer. Although tragic, confusing, and forever unjust, that day taught us all something.
Now, as a parent, I continue to learn from that day. It takes on a whole new meaning and gives me an entirely new purpose. A purpose for my life as it relates to Turner.