Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Memory (repost)

(This was first posted on September 11th, 2008, following a trip to New York that previous spring.
I think I've reposted it once before,
but I'm reposting it again today on the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
May we never forget...)

I didn't expect it to affect me this way. I experienced it much like many other Americans, waking to news on the tv, sitting with my mouth open watching the horror. But I didn't know anyone who lost their life that day. I didn't even know anyone that knew anyone. I had a friend at The Pentagon who, had he of been in his office, would most likely no longer be here, but thank God he was off running an errand on the opposite side of the building.

So I didn't expect it to affect me this way.

Walking up to Ground Zero I wondered if we would really be able to pass through the large locked gate. Others stood outside peering in, taking pictures through the chain link. We went to the information/security booth. The guard looked at our ids, radioed to someone on the other side, thanked my husband for his service to our country, and told us to stand at the gate.

I still didn't expect it to affect me this way.

A man came and let us in. As the gate closed behind us the reality of where we stood began to hit. A tingling started at my hands and feet, quickly spreading over my body. As I followed the construction worker I realized I was numb, my breath shallow. I was watching myself taking steps, but didn't feel any movement. There were other people standing at the end of the makeshift path, peering down into the enormous hole.

The images on tv don't communicate how massive it really is. The buildings outside the fence seemed so far away, as did the ground below. Perspective didn't become clear until I saw a worker on the far side, and how small he was.

The rebar protruding from the concrete foundation somehow stuck with me, what was left of what had been.

I looked up. The sky was so vast, such an expanse. A plane passed overhead and suddenly all I saw was a blurry blue. My cheeks became wet. It was just so much. The loss.

We took photos. I didn't want to forget this. But I don't need those to recall the vivid memory.

The construction worker stood quietly by as we walked around the platform, taking in all sides. He waited patiently, just as he does with each visitor that comes.

As he escorted us back up the makeshift path to the gate we passed a trailer. Flowers were set outside and Nate asked the man what it was, but the sign on the door was our answer. My cheeks grew wet again.

The gate closed. The church just outside had new significance. We made our way down the street, around the corner to the museum. I didn't know if I wanted to enter, I wasn't sure I wanted to take the stories into my heart.

I hadn't expected it to affect me this way.

I worried about my umbrella and my purse. I needed to use the restroom. Anything trivial to move my mind from the depths of my heart it had gone to.

We walked quietly through the walls with memories in large print for us to relive with each survivor. Every so often Nate would beckon me to something in particular. Every so often I would beckon him. We moved slowly.

The cuff of my sleeve was stretched out and damp.

Rounding the corner took my breath away. One wall filled with names. Another wall, pictures of them laughing, hugging their daughter, playing baseball with their son, at their grandma's birthday party, smiling so broadly. My lungs could not find air, my vision was reeling. These people were me.

A rose lay on the floor.

I was still numb.

I didn't expect it to affect me this way.

God, help us. Help us see You. I don't understand the making of the tapestry or why threads are woven a certain way, but I stand firm in the faith that it will be beautiful. I know You don't cause these things. I know You didn't cause 9/11. And I know You didn't cause Ian's diabetes. I know You didn't cause Grandad to die when it was supposed to be a routine surgery. I know You didn't cause my sister's friend to develop a rare form of lymphoma as she's juggling new motherhood. I know You have given us free will, and our earth is fallen and broken. We as a people are fallen and broken. I know You came as a man, choosing to be the blameless sacrifice that our earth could never provide. I know You are truth. I know You are hope. I know You are light. I know You are sovereign and You can rescue and You can heal and You can prevent and You can protect. I know our tapestry is woven IN SPITE OF our own choices. I also know that I will not understand the deepest weaving, but that it is beautiful. It is a miracle. One that only You can accomplish. Thank You for being a tower we can rest in when we don't understand. Thank You for letting us cry and be angry and mourn, and for holding us close through it all. Some of us choose not to feel Your arms around us, but You are there. You are always there.

Thank you for letting it affect me this way.

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