Monday, May 2, 2011

Where were you?

Like most Americans, hearing the news of Osama Bin Laden's death has taken me back to that day. The day that seems so long ago. The day that changed so much. Families, travel, skylines, history. With all of the loss and devastation, can there be any good that came from that day?

It was a regular morning: rush, rush, hurry, hurry, get out the door. Did I kiss the boys that morning, or was I fussing and rushing them to the bus stop? I do remember that I needed gas in my truck but decided that to save time I would fill up after school. So I was probably fussing and rushing instead of hugging and kissing. I do remember the school day starting just like any other. And I will never forget the words over the intercom, "Teachers, please turn on your TV's so that you can see what is going on in the world around us." Why would she say that? "See what's going on in the world around us." The attendance secretary who made the announcement is a friend of mine. The tone of her voice, the words she chose, I knew before I pushed the power button that something of great importance would come into focus once I got the metal clothes hanger antennae in just the right position. Nothing could have prepared me for the picture I would find.

I wanted to run. I wanted my family. I wanted to feel safe. I wanted to cry. I wanted to turn the TV off and pretend it never happened. I had a room full of 9th grade students. I had to stay put. I had to comfort them. Make them feel safe. Let them know it was okay to cry. We watched, we talked, we prayed, and as the day went on we cried. I have to admit that in the beginning some of my students didn't understand what had happened. They couldn't comprehend how much their lives were changing, had changed in a matter of minutes. It took a while for students to make the connections - my cousin lives in New York City, my uncle works at the Pentagon, my brother is flying today - slowly these thoughts floated to the surface.  I can't always get Lovey on the phone and don't remember talking to him until sometime that afternoon. But I do remember calling my momma. Who of our friends and family might be on a plane today? I wanted to account for everyone. I called my sister. I wanted to see them all. Put my arms around them. Hold their faces in my hands.

As the day progressed, parents began to show up. Some to take their students home; some who, like me, only wanted to see them all. Put their arms around them. Hold faces in their hands. Staying at that school so far from my own kids was so difficult, yet I couldn't leave. Even in the teacher's lounge someone had tuned a TV to the news coverage. During lunch I left my room but couldn't tear myself away from the coverage. Finally 3:30 came, time to go home. But first I had to get gas. I worked my way towards home. Station after station was out of gas. The stations in town who had gas also had extremely long lines, and by now, I was desperate to get home to my family. I didn't have time to wait in line. I thought that the small country stores would be immune to the long lines. I was wrong. I drove and drove until I finally had to wait in line. This scared me almost as much as the horrible things I had witnessed on TV during day. I stopped at a small local store. I had known most of the people in line for years and years. I witnessed people yelling and screaming at friends; I saw people filling container after container with gas while the rest of us waited and wondered if the tanks would empty before we would have our turn. I started to wonder if I would run out gas while waiting in line. I had no choice but to wait; I had pushed my limit already, driving as far as I dared on my empty tank. I still had 15 or so miles before I was home. I prayed, "Please Lord, let the gas hold out until it's my turn." I must admit if the gas had run out before I got my turn - I'm not sure what I would have done. I had held it together for about as long as I could; it wouldn't take much to push me over the edge. But I did get enough gas to finally make it home.

After so many hours of watching the news from school, I hugged and kissed my babies and as soon as they were in bed, I went right back to watching the news. It was impossible to not watch. Everyone wondered what would happen next. It was as though the country was holding our collective breaths waiting for the next explosion. Am I the only one who remembers the day as if it were running in slow motion? During the night, I found myself going into the boy's room to watch them sleep. Just to be sure. Of what? That they were sleeping? That they were breathing? That they were. Because so many had started that morning being - but were no longer. I prayed for them, for their families, and counted my many blessings.

That night seems so long ago, yet last night as Baby Jus and I worked on his final high school assignment, I got a tweet about Bin Laden's death. Then another that announced full coverage on the news. I didn't even turn on the TV. I didn't want to think about that day. I didn't want to give the man any more power over me. We Americans have pieced together a new life, a new way of living. So many more have lost family members. I did watch a short bit of news this afternoon. I saw that in some places people celebrated in the streets. I understand their exuberance. I respect their need to claim the victory. I cannot celebrate anything concerning this man and the devastation he has caused. I saw this status on facebook earlier today:
 .."Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Ezekiel 33:11
 I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Tonight I celebrate the life of all those around the world who have died because of this evil man, I celebrate the many wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, children, and friends who have been force to build a new normal because this man's evil plans have left a hole in their lives and their hearts.

Has any good come of that day? The day serves as a reminder. I know how precious each day is. I realize how quickly circumstances can change. I appreciate the sacrifices that have been made for me.

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