Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

When I was a kid I used to listen to my mom talk about what she was doing when Elvis died.
I remember listening to the song American Pie (the day the music died) when I was a kid and wondering what those people felt like.
My mom always talked about Elvis's death and how she could remember everything she was doing that day. 
She talked about how she felt and how she will never forget everything that happened that day.

As a kid I always wondered how that could be true.
I knew some pain and I had lots of memories, but most of them were just bits and pieces and not full on, whole day, memories, riddled with powerful feelings. 
When she talked about that day I knew she remembered it all. 
I knew that when she talked about it she still felt every single emotion that she felt then.
I never knew what that felt like,
that is until September 11th, 2001.

Its been 11 years since that day.
11 years and not a single memory gone, not a single feeling less intense then it was all those years ago.
As I sit here writing, the tears are still falling.
My breath still catches in my throat and my heart still aches.
My mind is still filled with fog and confusion when I remember that day so long ago.

I remember waking up to my radio alarm and that I kept hitting the snooze. 
I could hear bits and pieces of what was happening, but in my sleep riddled head I did not really hear enough to realize what was happening.

I got up after hitting the snooze too many times. 
I missed Seminary for my church and rushed across the street to my High School.
It was my senior year and my locker was right in the middle of the main circle in the building.
I remember walking into the school and running to my locker and realizing that NO ONE was in the hall. 
I got to my locker and started to unlock it, but before I could I felt an odd feeling come over me. I slowly turned around and walked to the classroom closest to my locker.
 The closer I got I realized that it was packed full of people. 
I walked into the room and turned to look at the TV that everyone was glued too.
 As soon as I saw the TV I remember thinking,
"What is happening? This can't be real."
I looked around at all the kids in the room with me and saw the tears streaming down their faces.
I dropped my backpack and slid into the desk closest to me.
I knew in that first instant, when the room disappeared around me and my backpack slide off my shoulder and I some how convinced my body to move to a chair to sit down, that the world would never be the same.

I was overcome with anger, with pain and with confusion.
But mostly I was overcome with sadness.
Every tiny little part of my body ached with pain over the lose of people I did not even know. 
I have never felt such sorrow in my entire life. 
When I saw friends walking by in the hall I waved them into the room and we just held hands and cried together.

I remember seeing people jumping from the building and I felt like I was jumping with them. 
I could feel the heat on my face and I felt like I had a huge knot stuck in my throat.

How could this happen? I thought.
Why is this happening?
The fear over took my body and I willed myself to try to believe that it was not true.
It had to be some kind of cruel joke.
This kind of stuff happened in other places, other countries, other times, but never too use.
Never in our home.

I could never seem to collect my thoughts.
I walked from my first class to my second in a daze.
I wondered why we still had to go to class when it seemed like the world was ending.

When the images of the plane showed on the news hitting the second tower I could literally feel my body tense up and then go numb.
When the plane hit the pentagon and then again when the plane was forced off course and went down in a field, I wondered when it was going to end.
When the first tower fell and the news anchors started screaming, I could feel my tears pouring out of my eyes. I had never cried like that before in my life.
Would it end?
This could not possibly be the way that our world stops, could it?

It sure felt like the world stopped turning.
It felt like someone had just turned off a light. And that the world was in darkness.
The song "Where were you when the world stopped turning?" came out a few months later and I remember thinking, when he said, "In a crowded room did you feel alone?" That, that was exactly how I felt.

My third period teacher would not let us watch the news in her room and wanted to continue class as if nothing had happened. 
I was so mad.
How could she possibly think that any of us could focus on anything else?
My mind was in a hazy fog and I wanted to scream at her that life was never going to be the same, couldn't she see that?
I ended up leaving the class and just wandering the halls until 4th period. 
My 4th period class was all girls and we all pilled up onto the couches together and just held each other and cried. 
We talked about how we were feeling.
We worried about the people in the planes and in the towers.
We worried about our loved ones and our friends that were there.
I remember crying until I had no tears left.
I could taste the salt from my tears in the corners of my mouth and I could feel my skin tighten under the streaming tears.

How would we pick up the pieces as a nation?
How could we survive?
As a 17 year old kid I did not have any of these answers.

I did not know at that time, that we as a nation would unite together.
We would come together on a united front and bond in a way that I never knew possible.

It seemed like hate for others was gone.
It seemed like the whole world was having that spirit of Christ so fully in their lives.
The spirit of hope and peace that you feel around Christmas time, was felt all the time.

Every time I see pictures of the World Trade centers before they fell, in movies and TV shows, I feel the rush of emotion and feelings that I felt that day many years ago.
I will never forget that day.
I don't think I could ever forget.

I will tell my children about that day, just as my mother shared her story with me.
I will tell them about the brave men and women that lost their lives that day, and for many months after.

I always watch the movie The World Trade Center on this day, to remind me of the tragedies that happened and the hope that rose up from the ashes.
I know that I will never forget that day. 
I don't ever want to forget that day.

That day God watched down from Heaven and wept with us.
He mourned and hurt for all of his sons and daughters.
And he was there to pick us all up and to teach us all in that time of deep despair.

On that day, we all were the same.
On that day we were all united in the same cause.
We were all doing the same things and all hurting together.

Such unity is a rare thing to witness and to be apart of.

Let us never forget that day and more important let us never forget what that day was for.
Let us never forget the aftermath and the growth.
If we forget those things, then that day will have meant nothing except serving as a reminder of the immense pain that we all felt.

I will always remember.
I will never forget.

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