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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Almost is a Huge Word

Typically I spend my Thursdays flashing back to moments in time I wish to forget because... well... because I wore this, y'all:


Not today. So if you were looking for lighthearted humor, you should seriously leave right now to check out Sincerely Fro Me To You at We Are That Family. But not here.

Not today.

Today I'm flashing back to a moment in time when Americans everywhere stood still. Exactly seven years ago today, 19 sadly deluded individuals caused immense hurt and pain. Exactly seven years ago today, 2,957 innocent people lost their lives while the world watched in horror.

And exactly seven years ago today, I almost became a widow.

Almost is a huge word, isn't it?

If the Husband's schedule differed by just an hour seven years ago, my life now might be very different. That measly 60 minutes allows me to be an American who pushes the memories to the back of my mind instead of one who will spend the rest of my life trying to forget. To say that I feel blessed seems immensely selfish and completely inappropriate given that so, so many people lost loved ones that day. And yet...

To say that I feel blessed is also the truth.

The Husband drove from our home in the D.C. metro area to New York City the morning of September ll, 2001. He left during the wee dawn hours so that he could make his 10 AM meeting at the World Tr@de Center. He never arrived at that meeting.

That wasn't the case for everyone.

The Husband rarely talks about what he saw from the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River, except to say that the Big Apple's gray skies reminded him so much of another catastrophic moment in time. He lived in Eastern Washington when ash fell like snow after Mount St. Helen's erupted. On September ll, New York's skies looked the same.

The Husband rarely says much except to say that he feels grateful he was able to turn around before the Holland Tunnel, heading towards home instead of the unknown. Only five cars followed behind him before police blocked the ramps.

The Husband drove for hours, alone on the turnpike, unable to exit unless he wished to remain where he stopped. He saw only emergency vehicles heading the opposite way, driving towards the city... towards the confusion. It felt eerie, he said. And surreal. He tried using his phone several times, but there existed absolutely no cell coverage in New York or New Jersey that day.

For hours, I worried he might be dead. I knew of his meeting that morning, but I didn't know of the time. The Husband, Mr. Disorganized, failed to note that now important detail in his planner. His secretary called my school at 10:15 to ask if I'd heard from him. I hadn't. Neither had she. So we waited. I paced at school, first near my unusually quiet students, waiting for their traffic-delayed parents to arrive, and later near my co-workers, huddled around an old radio we dug out from the AV room. The Husband's coworkers also waited, crowded around televisions, watching the news in stunned silence.

At around 1:30, the Husband finally, successfully reached me using his cell phone. Diane from the school office came running to tell me. And that's when I finally cried. The Husband drove home that day, arriving at a little before 4:00. So many others never came home.

We hugged so tight that evening. So very tight, y'all.

The Husband felt survivor's guilt for months. He struggled to reconcile the God he knew with what he saw happen that day. Over and over, the Husband asked himself, "why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" and also the more difficult question to answer, "why did God spare me?"

The Problem Of Pain written by C.S. Lewis brought him some comfort, y'all.

It didn't help that our lives intersected with several who lost their lives that day and many more who lost their innocence. Five of the Husband's clients died in New York. My sister KitKat's high school friend Christine died in Pennsylvania alongside the other passengers of Flight 93 and her college roommate Gabby evacuated building 11. Several friends of friends survived the Pentagon collapse, but one did not. The mother of one of my little preschool students walked away with only stitches on her arm after being listed as missing for hours. And my cousin Caro evacuated from the Capitol building.

I think back to September ll only a couple of times a year... on its anniversary and sometimes when a memory flashes through my thoughts. Thousands of people don't have that luxury. Thousands of people picked up the pieces of their lives after that terrible day, trying to find joy in life after losing a mother, a father, a spouse, a sibling, a child.

I was almost among them. Almost.

Almost is a huge word, isn't it?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

52 comments:

Muthering Heights said...

I'm glad you paused to recognize this serious day.

But I do like the photo you posted also. :)

Suz Broughton said...

VERY well written and moving. Thanks for taking the time to remember the day.

jennifer said...

Tears honey. Real tears over this post. You have amazed me with your story and I am so thankful for your husband NEVER making it to that meeting.

We can't take anything for granted.

Thank you for sharing. I too gave a nod to 9/11 but it was not like your post.

Jen

Crayl said...

Thank you for sharing, I read it to my husband too. It is good to know the miracles that happened too.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Usually your posts have be doubled over in laughter.....I have tears running down my face.....God was wathching out for him that day....60 minutes....what a miracle!

Thank you for sharing this story....it is a day this country will never forget.....so many lives lost...so glad TD's was spared

Georgia Peach said...

Thanks for sharing your story - and thanks for pausing today to reflect.

Aunt LoLo said...

Thank you for sharing...what a miracle. In the scriptures, it says that sometimes God lets bad things happen to good people just so that there will be more evidence against the bad people on judgement day. If the good people are good, they have little to fear on the other side. It had been so long since America, as a whole, had to put that faith to the test.

For your sake, I'm grateful today that God spared your family...and added to it so much, afterwards! It was a scary day, on the West Coast - like waking up to a VERY televised version of War of the Worlds. I, too, was teaching in an elementary school that day - it was my job to receive text message updates from my father and pass them along to the teacher I was working with, who then passed them along to the teacher's lounge to keep the other teachers updated.

God bless you, and your family!!

Michelle said...

Oh, TM, you have left me speechless and in tears. Praise God that TD returned home that day.

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Almost IS a huge word. Thanks for the awesome post.

Peanut said...

Wow. I can't even imagine what you all must have gone through that day. Praise God for sparing your husband. Thanks for giving us a look inside what it was like for many people that day.

McEwens said...

TM... what a dufference 60 min made. Thank you for posting this, a great reminder of what we all do have.

TM, THANK YOU SO very much for your comments and kind words on my blog. You have a great amount of wisdom, thank you!

Briana's Mom said...

What an amazing story. I cannot imagine how terrified you and your husband were that day. Both my husband and father were on airplanes that day - Doug was heading to DC. It is certainly a day I will never forget.

Lanxi said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, and for letting us see the lives who were touched but not taken. Blessed is appropriate and it is not selfish. Rejoice in your Father's protection, even in the confusion.
Blessings to you all!

We are THAT Family said...

Thank you for sharing this and helping us all to remember!

Make sure you link up next Thursday because I'm giving away a very cool prize from the 80's!

Scrappy Girl said...

Wow! What an amazing story. We are almost the opposite of you. No one we knew died on 9/11, but it still haunts my memories. What a terrible day...

Bren's Life said...

Came over from mcewens (Pam) blog. Thank you so very much for sharing your story. How touching & how tramatic to have to of gone through that. My heart & prayers go out to you...

Krista ~ Bits and pieces said...

This was moving, heart wrenching and glorious all at once. I am thankful for you and your family while at the same time hurting for so many others. Today I join you in prayer and in praise.

Hugs,

Krista

Mechelle said...

Came over from mcewens (Pam) blog. Wow. What a wonderful,powerful post. Thank you for sharing. Your husband was spared so we could know. (one of the many reasons)

m

Ramblings of Kimberly said...

Thank you for sharing your story.

The Source said...

That was a very thought provoking post. Most of us will always remember where we were and what we were doing at the time, but few of us experienced the anxiety, the pain of not knowing if loved ones were safe, and the sorrow of lost lives that day first hand. I'm so glad that your husband was spared and left here with his loving family. Thank you for sharing your memories.

Amy-littletoesandcheerios said...

Thanks for the reminder of this date we shall never forget:) You are truly blessed. I can't imagine how those must feel who lost their loved ones on this tragic day.

Third Mom said...

Lovely, beautiful.

There's no sense to that day at all. Brian, who I wrote about this morning, didn't work at the trade center. He, like the Husband, went there for a meeting. Unfortunately, he made it.

Who can ever know why things happen the way they do? *sigh* I'll never figure it out, so I've stopped trying.

And where in DC are you - email me!

D... said...

But for the grace of God....thanking you for sharing your chilling story. What a true blessing you received. This is a sad day indeed but so much good also came from it. We need to always be reminded and to remember.

Queen B said...

Thank you so much for sharing such an incredible story.

Amazing that just 60 minutes could be so important. Who knows what each of us is protected from every day.

Blessings to you.

Beverly said...

Wow what a story. Let us never forget!

georgie said...

Thanks for your story and beautiful post

Domestic Accident said...

What an amazing post.

HDMac said...

Thank you for this touching and amazing post...


NEVER forget and EVER protect...

GOD BLESS THE USA

Special K said...

That's an incredible story.
So glad he came home that day.

Janet said...

Really good post. Almost IS a huge word. I am so thankful that he made it home. I'm tearing up over here. So thankful. And sad, for those who did not make it home.

Suzie said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Almost is a big word and I'm so glad that your family did not have to endure the loss of a loved one as so many other did.

We must NEVER forget!

Valarie said...

Wow, I don't even know what to say. You are right almost is such a huge word.

God was not ready for your Husband that day, He must have big plans for him. :)

Carolina Mama said...

Oh my goodness. What a story of how you were intwined with so many. And God spared YOUR husband. That is something!! A meeting the trade center buildings. on that day. praise God he did not get there that day.

Thanks for sharing.

lindsey said...

you don't know me, but i want to thank you for sharing your story.

Doug and Terrye said...

Thank you for sharing your story, it reminded me to take the time to remember.

Terrye in FL

Beachy Mimi said...

Thank you for sharing your emotions of that day. Blessings to your family

Heather of the EO said...

Wow. Amazing. Really, it is so hard to reconcile all the emotions.
This is so well-written, pulling me into a reminder that God's love is very real, even if the outcome is not so good.

Baby Tunnel Exodus said...

I'm so grateful you used your voice to Remember today; you have a story that needed to be told. I am so happy for your family. Blessings, Whitney

Sharie said...

WOW! God does have a way of working in our lives.

missy said...

Stop by my blog...I left you a shout out : )

The Momster said...

Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your experience. I remember where I was at the exact moment the first plane intercepted the tower.
I also remember seeing tons of more people at church the following Sunday morning. We were all desperate and searching for answers. Your post reminded me of those questions that lingered in my mind.
A lot can change in 60 minutes...profound.

Tammy said...

May none of us ever forget.

I talked with my kids (who were tiny people on 9/11) about the day and what it meant. I want them to remember too.

Thanks for sharing your story! God has blessed you.

Amy said...

Wow... I clicked over from another post and I am so glad I did! What a great post. I am glad your world turned out okay that day... It is an eerie chill to think about that day and those that followed. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Jill said...

WoW! Almost speechless. This is as close to "knowing" someone who suffered that day as I have come.......Praise the lord for your family, and prayers for those who have lost....

Crazymamaof6 said...

thank you for sharing. ALMOST is a HUGE WORD. and such a blessing.today is so hard for so many. luckily it's mostly just today and not every moment of every day. and to be so close and know so many effected. WOW!
blessings.

Mechelle said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Just wanted to let you know I am having a baby quilt give away. Thought you might like to sign up. It sounds silly putting this in the comments of a post like this, but there it is. M

shellie said...

oh that just made my heart hurt. I don't know what to say. but great post.

The Motherboard said...

Almost is a HUGE word.

Thank you for sharing this story. You are a wordsmith.

Tanja said...

I don't think I'll ever look at the word almost the same again. Your story gave me chills. Thanks for sharing your experience. This was a great post!

CC said...

I am tearing up. Obviously many people are with all these hits you've had.

This is the closest I think I've "known" someone who was in this tragedy. We had just moved to the west coast a few weeks before 9/11.

Thank you for writing this, and taking such care in a beautiful post.

prechrswife said...

Tears here, too. I remember that day so distinctly, but did not personally know anyone directly impacted. I can only imagine how utterly frightening that day must have been.

Sharon said...

I have tears!