Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday's Child

In 2001, September 11th fell on a Tuesday. Early that morning, I clicked the leash to Cheyenne's collar and we set out for the park, relishing in the pinks and golds of the rising sun. I had been travelling the past week, arriving home Monday afternoon, and was happy to be back in my familiar morning routine.

The previous Saturday, I walked the long and zig zagging path of Boston's Freedom Trail. I read about and walked the early history of our country. The feeling of patriotism was still with me that Tuesday morning and in my head the song, City of New Orleans, Good morning, America, how are ya? There was a bounce in my step; I just knew the day was going to be a good one.

As was the morning norm, the Today Show was on the living room television when Cheyenne and I returned. I poured a cup of coffee and sat down to watch. Suddenly there was a switch to breaking live news. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. It seemed it was a tragic commuter plane accident.

A glance at the clock told me I needed to get in the shower or I'd be late for work.

My friend called out to me from the hall. Are you watching this? You should watch this. Her voice was different, higher than normal, desperate, an urgent timber I'd not heard from her before.

Oh my God! A second plane hit the World Train Center!

Confused, I stepped out of my room to the hallway, dripping wet in my towel. She stood there in her robe. We hugged in fear and shock. We stood before the television in my bedroom waiting for someone to pull the plug, announce the mistake.

The text on the screen said, Plane Crashes into World Trade Center Tower.

NBC News took over. Tom Brokaw spoke to us. It cannot be confirmed at this time, but it appears that we are under a terrorist attack.

With those words, and the incomprehensible live images before us, we began to believe the unbelievable. We watched the unreal become factual. We watched in frozen horror and disbelief. So little could be confirmed. I remember the scramble for information. And more came. The Pentagon was hit, images and live feeds were all over the television. The more we understood, the more we cried out. Instinctively, we called our fathers; she called her girlfriend. Both of us terrified but reassured by the voices on the other end of the line.

We were being attacked. We paced. We made the dogs nervous. Our hands were shaking. We lifted our coffee cups to our mouths and held them there unable to take a sip. The tears came. They would stop as we digested more news, and they'd return again. And again. I don't know how many times I held my hand to my mouth and said Oh God. I think I will forever remember the sounds, the sirens and sirens and sirens of responding vehicles.

We weren't at all sure what to do, but we needed to be with our families, that much we knew, that much drove us out of the house. I remember saying goodbye to her that morning. The two of us about to set out into a suddenly unfamiliar and dangerous world. The two of us marked, changed within a few moments. Along with everyone else in the country. We hugged before leaving. I held on. I honestly was not sure I would see her again.

On the drive to my parents, I listened to the news on the radio. When the first building began to fall, I looked over at the man in a truck beside me in the traffic. His hand was on his mouth. We locked eyes and I put my my hand on my heart. I started to cry again. Never have I felt so devastated but so broadly connected at the same time.

Eight years later, I walk downstairs and light a candle while the coffee brews. In a moment, I'll walk Cheyenne to the park, gaze up at the flag flying atop the building across the street and remember that morning, that morning I was singing Good morning America, how are ya? without a care in the world, innocent to terror. Eight years later, I recall the horror and I recall looking into a stranger's face in traffic and feeling love.

Eight years later, I'll be singing at the park this morning, I will. And that? That singing at the park? That's my love for this country and her people. The song is more doleful now; so very much happened that day and so very much has changed since then. But sing I will, out loud and out strong.

That last line? That should be the ending to this post, but I'm not quite finished. I know that bells will ring today. I know that bagpipes will sound. I know that my memory of that day will float through my heart and haunt my mind. I know that grief pours from shore to shore. With that in my heart, I want to finish with this: A dear friend of mine writes a wonderful blog and just yesterday she wrote a post with the title, Grace Really is Amazing. After I read her words last night, I recalled the childhood poem, Monday's Child.

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

It's that second line, Tuesday's child is full of grace, that resonates with me today.

September 11, 2001, fell on a Tuesday. As my friend pointed out, grace really is amazing. And as I grew up, I helf fast to Tuesday's child being full of grace. I'm Wednesay's child, full of woe. With that, with head bowed but voice high, in honor of those who we lost on September 11, 2001, those who died, those who grieved, those who collapsed, those who crawled into a dark place and never came out, those who connected with strangers, and those who stood up and fought, who rushed in when others ran out, those who prayed, those who caved, those who shook their heads in sorrow, those who reported and those who watched, I say this: Tuesday's child IS full of grace and never more have I known that child than on this day eight years ago, and now.

We are all Tuesday's children, each and every one of us.

I leave you with these words by John Newton (1725-1807).

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail
,And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


ghost said...

i was teaching a class, trying to find the words to explain the signifigance of what was happening to a class full of teenagers who were as frightened as i was.

Duly Inspired said...

Ghost - I imagine that was a difficult position to be in, very challenging. I bet you did it well though. Do you see any of those kids today? Do you ever speak about it?