Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our September 11th Story

It has been 10 years and the strange thing is that I can close my eyes and it feels like not a moment has passed.  And yet, so many have.
10 years ago I was sitting on my bed reading a devotion and enjoying a beautiful September morning.  When my husband called with the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I turned on the TV just as the second plane was striking the second tower.   When I told him what just happened and that they were jetliners not small private planes, he immediately ended the call.

He was at the Pentagon.  I was home in Washington, DC.
My natural response would have been to find myself lost in the news reports - traipsing from Fox to CNN to MSNBC.  This morning it didn’t even cross my mind and gratefully so.   I put the TV on mute and returned to my morning prayer time. 

Not long after,  I vividly remember the windows in my home shaking.  At the time, we lived directly across from National Airport and often sonic booms would rattle our windows.  However, this time it was different and I noticed.  Minutes later, I would know why.
The next time I looked up to the television I no longer saw pictures of New York but a familiar shot of the Pentagon with dark black smoke billowing from its side.   I knew that building.  I had been in it many times.  My husband was there at that very moment and I wondered where. 

I began to frantically look for his business card and tried to desperately count off the rings and corridors to figure out where his office was and where he should have been.  Truly, I had no idea but it made me feel better trying.  The minutes ticked away silently.  The military community where we lived was locked down.   I couldn’t leave.  Phones lines were jammed.  I couldn’t call.
It was eerily and wickedly – quiet.

In the deafening silence, I felt a peace and a calmness.  Now,   I recognize it as God’s presence and provision but then, it felt odd – different.
It was a couple hours before my husband could call and tell me he was “fine” (as fine can be when evil comes knocking on your door).  It was hours – like 18 or more – before he made it home wearied, wet and smelling of a strange mixture of jet fuel and smoke. Wearing first degree burns on the outside and deeper, much deeper wounds on the inside.  I don’t remember many words.  To this day, we have trouble finding them when talking about September 11th.   In that, I doubt we are alone. 

As a first responder on that day, he didn’t evacuate but ran toward the horror.  He spent the next 3 months working in the crash site.  I can still vividly remember the smell of his clothes each day. 

Death and evil are not pleasant fragrances. 

But grace is.  It doesn’t always come in the package we expect or want but it always comes when we need it most.

On that day we lost neighbors – a husband and a new father; a young boy going on a field trip – just two of the many who left their homes that morning without an inkling of what was to come.

On that day, the cost was priceless.
We will never understand why my husband's meeting that was scheduled to occur at the exact moment and place where Flight 77 impacted the building, was cancelled at the last minute.
We will never understand why innocent people paid such a high price.
I cannot understand evil that causes such pain.  I pray that I never do. 
On that day, our lives were changed.
On that day our country changed.
Still and yet, on that day, our God - the One True God - remained the same.    That is what I seek to know and understand.  On Him I can rest my weary and heartbroken soul.  He catches every tear.  He calms every anxious thought.  He gives strength in the weakest of moments. 
He never changed and gratefully, He never will.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?

© A Sacred Longing 2009-2011


  1. Wow. Thank you for sharing. Honored to have read your story today. Prayerfully.

  2. A thoughtful, tender remembrance. A painful one as well. You were on the front lines, and your perspective is different than mine. I'm so grateful for people like your husband who was willing to rush in, give his hours and his time, to help bring healing to your community.

    You two are certainly people loving people!