Saturday, September 11, 2010
When I think back to this day, nine years ago, I remember bits and pieces of strong emotions. Being in a huge plane headed back to the states from a trip to Paris. Dave was looking forward to a new job, and we were both anxious to get to my parents house to see Kadin who was getting close to turning two. Suddenly we were told there were terrorist attacks against the US and the plane had to turn around. The airspace was closed. Closed? The airspace? How does that happen??? We were re-routed to Amsterdam. I remember getting off the plane, walking into the airport and seeing televisions with clusters of people surrounding them. We watched the second tower get hit and I began to run to the luggage pick up. I remember Dave telling me to slow down, that the bags were not going anywhere but I had this overwhelming need to have my bags in hand. And thankfully I did. Only a handful of us got our luggage. All the rest was confiscated. People were stranded with small children and no change of clothes. No extra diapers. Nothing but the clothes on their back and things in the carry on bags. It was surreal. This doesn't happen in the 21st century. It was like taking a step back in time. We tried to find a hotel room to stay in. All the hotels close to the airport were jacking up the prices. People were walking up to us and offering their condolences. We were like fish out of water. We were lucky to find a room in a close by hotel. The Von Der Valk hotel. It was a short bus ride away. We had not eaten in about 12 hrs. The baggets I was bringing home from Paris were so hard they would have been considered lethal weapons but we ate them anyway. When we checked into the hotel, we were put in the "Jungle Room." Seriously, the room had fake plants everywhere with birds in them. A waterbed with leapord skin covers and a mirror on the ceiling. I remember Dave and I laying on it...holding hands and staring upward wondering what had just happened in our world. The next night we were moved to a different room. The next night, another one. But we were just thankful that we had our clothes. We had a place to stay. We were safe. Our child was safe.
Every day we travelled to the airport. Where we waited in lines. For hours. I think it is much like someone who goes to a hospital. Trying to get in to see a loved one, but they can't. The door is locked, they are too sick, there are no visitors allowed. They reluctantly turn away, yet they cannot make themselves leave the premisis. How do you go on? How do you describe the fear as you perch on the edge of a hotel bed and watch people jump to their death. To feel the desire to hold your child that is an ocean away. To know things will never be the same again.
And yet they are. Life goes on. We were able, by the grace of God, to get on a plane. Once loaded, a muslim walked on and then threw a fit to get off. Everyone was in an uproar. Was this plane condemned to hell? People were rushing to get off. They checked the plane and all was safe. I can only imagine that poor soul felt the anger in people's eyes. For a crime he was not guilty of, yet was being punished by association. How we are so eager to place blame, yet so slow to forgive and find middle ground.
On our flight home, we met two missionary men. This flight was going to Cleveland, Ohio. Our car was in Columbus, Ohio. There were no rental cars available. I did not care. I would walk from Cleveland to Ironton, Ohio if I had to to see my child. To hold my family. To be in the same continent. The same state. The same space. Dave and I ended up driving all night with these two men who were able to get a car. Driving with two people we did not know, but trusted to do us no harm. Two men who were like angels sent from God to help guide us home.
I remember wandering Amsterdam. Looking at things, talking, seeing people who's lives just continued. How do we move on? I missed my son so much. I could relate to mothers who had to leave their children behind. For whatever reason. To not be able to reach out when you want, and hold your baby is the most horrible feeling of all. We tried to be touristy, but it wasn't in us, and we eventually found ourselves back at the airport..waiting.
Thankfully, I have family close by in Amsterdam. We set up times for tea. They would take the train to see us. We were not alone. But we did not keep the date, we flew home instead. I was so thankful.
I remember pulling into my parents driveway. Jumping out of the car and dashing up the stairs onto the back deck. Where Dave and I stood at the door, looking in at our small son who had no idea his world had just been changed. Sitting in a booster seat, safe at Grandma and Grandpa's. Loved beyond measure. Life goes on. Tearfully, my father threw open the door and grasped us so hard, I didn't think he would ever let go. Nor did I want him to. We were home. Safe. Our family was intact. It would be a long time before I would get into another plane that Dave wasn't flying. It would be a long time before I took a trip and left my child.
Yes, life goes on. The world keeps turning after horrible events. The sun comes back up in spite of us feeling as if it should stay dark forever. And God's grace surrounds us. Beconing us into the light of His way. Teaching us the fundamental rules of life. To love your neighbor. To be kind. To be helpful. To exist in peace together. Through those days in Amsterdam, I hugged more strangers, held more babies, touched hands, said a prayer, or just sat next to people I did not know and felt the overwhelming emotions of loss. That one day impacted my life in ways I can never tell. That day changed the very core of my being. Why do things like this happen in our lives? I will never pretend to know. But I'll just do what my mom always says to do. Sit back and look for the reason. For God knows why these things happen. And in His time, He will tell us.
Until then, I will never forget 9/11. Not the people who lost their lives. Not the brave souls on a plane that went down in a small field. Not the friend who worked at the Pentagon but was not where he usually was on that day. Not the men and women who worked, dilligently to find trapped people to give families closure. Or the bravest of all who gave their lives to help save others. My world was impacted by this event. And although my son does not remember it, I will remember it for him.