Sunday, September 4, 2011

Liberty and Church

In 2001 I was 19 years old and worked at Outback Steakhouse. It was a good time in my life. I was young had friends and was making great money. We lived in a beautiful house on the beach. If you sat on the roof of my house you could see the sky line of NYC.
I had so many plans for my life. I wasn't sure what I was going to do but the future was so bright! I had the world at my finger tips. I was from NY where anything is possible.  We were the capitol of the world. 
In my young mind I was invincible, untouchable. 
That morning changed my mind forever. I woke up to my mother screaming. I sat in bed for a minute because you know it could of been a spider she was screaming about. Then the phone started ringing. All of them. My two house phones, my cell phone, my mothers, my fathers, the people staying at our house. 
I got out of bed and went out into the living room.  My mom was sobbing in front of the television. It was oddly silent. 
I looked at our tiny TV to see a building burning with a giant hole in it.
"what is that?? that is not the twin towers is it??" I remember saying that so clearly. I remember the feeling of disbelief. My dad just looked at me and nodded his head. 
Immediately my mind went to all of my friends and family. I listed off the names of people i knew working in the city. I started to call them and one by one they had weird reasons why they weren't in the city that day. Some called in sick, others were late or were on their way and had no idea what had happen. 
I was so blessed and thankful to not have anyone I knew personally who suffered on that tragic day. 

As I drive to a friends house that day it felt like it was the end of the world. We watched the news waiting for something else to happen. Another building to be attacked or a bridge to be blown up. 
When I went to sleep that night I had such fear of tomorrow. What was going to happen next? Will we go to war? Will my brother be drafted? Will NY be OK?? Time was now limited. Life was now changed forever.  I had an overwhelming reality check that i was not invincible, what future did I have now?

The next day was still surreal. All the news coverage of people crying and posting pictures of missing family members. I went to work with a sad and fearful heart. I think everyone did.
While at work I found out that Outback would be cooking and serving meals to those people who were helping. I had to go. I couldn't not go.

I got picked to go in on that Friday am. We went at an ungodly hour. 2am. The trip in was quiet. Everyone was waiting to see in person what we had seen on TV. I don't remember much of that night. I remember that it was quiet. Nobody really wanted to talk to each other. We were doing something good but it was an awful horrific reason why. We were feeding men and women who had been working since Tuesday to find people. Find people??? How could anyone find people??
We had to wear masks because the sky was still so thick from smoke. We had armored guards all around us. NYC had gone from a place packed with people. Streets filled will yellow cabs and honking  horns to a place where army tanks roamed the streets. Military on every corner . A spooky silence filled the streets. It was like something you see in movies.

The guards took us down to the site and i was instantly overcome with emotion. I couldn't do anything to stop myself from crying. All those lives lost. The families forever changed. The wives who have to explain to their children that daddy isn't coming home. The mothers who had to bury children.
The wreckage was huge. The firemen looked like ants on a hill. The heat was so intense that i felt like it was hard to breathe.  I have an image that is engraved into my mind of a fireman leaning against a generator sleeping. He had to have been working since Tuesday morning. What a sacrifice.
 They came up to us as we gave out food. "We have hamburgers or cheeseburgers" That was all I could say as these men and women came up to us. Each one of them thanking us for food. I cried quietly as we handed food out to these brave and selfless people.

I came home Friday late morning covered in ashes. My face was black and my eyes burned from the heat. The smell was etched in my memory. I couldn't speak. I didn't know what to say. I was getting ready to put my clothes in the washer and my dad stopped me. He said you can't just wash that off.
Peoples lives are on your clothes. I had never thought of that before. It was a harsh and almost discussing truth.

The next few weeks we saw such unity in our country. Democrats, republicans, christian, Jewish it didn't matter. We came together. We united in the thought that these people who did this had to suffer.
These people changed our country.

This year it has been ten years since that awful day. TEN!! I look at my little girls and I am saddened by the world that they have to live in. They don't know the NY before 9/11. They are learning about it in history books.  My oldest came home and said "did you know that people flew planes into buildings in NYC!?" I was struck with the reality that we no longer have that secure feeling. NY can be touched. It can be taken down.

This year I  went into the city for my birthday and for the first time since 2001 I went down to ground zero. I could never do it before. I was afraid of feeling those feelings again. That sadness and fear.
I walked down through the masses to a place that was so unfamiliar to me. In replace of the towers was a giant glass building. Cranes and trucks everywhere. Workers outside the gates smoking taking a break from the heat.  What did these men think? Did they think it was odd to be building at this graveyard? Do they think of this place as holy. People died here. People disappeared forever here.  So many people come here to visit their loved ones. Loved ones who never got a proper burial.

It was a different view. Same place different feeling. I think that sadness will always run through me when i think of that site. No new building or monument will replace  the towers or make the people forget the pain. But as i saw the building of this new tower i kept thinking how God will restore. He will heal the hearts and he will make them new.  It reminds me to be thankful for the gift of live. For the men and women who gave their lives that day.
I will never forget


handsfullofblessings said...

touched to tears. Thanks Katie for letting us in.

handsfullofblessings said...

touched to tears. Thanks Katie for letting us in and helping me reconnect with the emotions of this day.