I’m two weeks late on this post, I know; I’ve been bizzy.
Confession: On September 11, 2001 when my big brother called the office to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I didn’t even know what the World Trade Center was.
In my defense, I was an 18-year-old Mennonite girl; although considering the fact that I had visited some fifteen countries of the world in my brief and sheltered life up to that point, it’s not much of an excuse.
When he called me back half an hour later to tell me the second plane had crashed, I felt mildly irritated with him for making such a big deal of this and keeping me from my work.
In my defense, this was the brother who hovered above me all my growing up years, and watched for cars and chased away dragons and in general made himself a pain in the neck when I wanted to be adventurous and independent; although considering the fact that I had survived to adulthood I should perhaps have realized by then the debt of gratitude I owed him.
In short, my world did not stop turning that September day.
It stopped turning seven days earlier, when a boy in my youth group left for a brief test run on his motorcycle and did not come back. They found his body in the ditch and his loose-strapped helmet thrown several yards away; they found the shaken driver of a small red pickup truck, who said “I couldn’t miss him. He didn’t make the corner.”
That was when my sheltered little world stopped turning, not because of that boy but because I realized with a sudden and deadly shock, as all Americans realized one week later, bad things can happen to us.
When you encounter this thought for the first time in your life, it leaves quite a mark. Until then you sort of know that the people you love will always be there, and that bad things happen, out there… somewhere… The day it bites you hard is the day the world stops turning. It was months before I could kiss my baby brother goodbye without thinking Is this the last time I am going to see you? He was two years old that fall, and adorable.
I always think of Hank this time of year. He was quiet and easy-going and after he was gone we realized we didn’t know him as well as we could have. But his cousins were some of my dearest friends, and it hurt; not one of us in that youth group will ever forget.
Where were you on September 11? What kind of a mark did it leave?