Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Moment Of Silence

"A moment of silence is the expression for a period of silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, or meditation."

Today we, as a country, are observing 6 moments of silence. One Moment of prayer, reflection and contemplation for each of the following moments that seemed to last a lifetime 12 short years ago:

At 8:45 a.m. The first plane crashed into the North World Trade Center Tower. 
At 9:03 a.m. The second plane crashed into the South World Trade Center Tower.
At 9:37 a.m. Flight 77 struck the Pentagon. 
At 9:59 a.m. The South Tower fell.
At 10:03 a.m. Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania
At 10:28 a.m. The North Tower 29 fell.
As each of these moments passed on that September morning our hearts broke a little more, our fears flared up in our chests and our worlds were forever changed. 
I woke up groggily Sept. 11, 2001 to a phone that seemed to be ringing incessantly. I had stayed up late the night before watching Thirteen Days and all I wanted to do is sleep. After a couple more rings, I finally gave in to the ringing and answered the phone. It is my roommates' older sister, who had been helping us try to resolve an issue with our phone number. There is nothing worse than getting a former Papa Johns' phone number as your new home number. If we had been willing to make and deliver pizza we could have made a small fortune. I quickly, with hopes of crawling back in bed, told her, 'We have resolved the issue and all is well with the phone.' When she calmly but firmly responded, 'Emily I don't give a damn about your phone turn on the TV and where is my sister?' This woke me up, her tone scared me. I tell her K
has left for class and I turn on the TV, just in time to see those iconic towers bleeding black smoke, raging flames and helpless souls. Terror washed over me, I have no clue what to do. I call my fiancee, "Where are you?" "Have you Heard?" Then the second wave of fear hits me like a truck. My parents and brother are staying at the Westin in downtown Atlanta, one of the tallest buildings in Atlanta.  I call, call again and again again and nothing. The phones are not working. I can't get through to the hotel or to their cell phones. I walk outside to get some air because the TV and sounds of the news have filled the empty apartment with tension so thick I can't breathe. I walk out the door and the first thing I notice, through the tears of frustration and fear, is the beautiful sky. The sky was as blue and clear as any day I had ever seen.  At that moment, I was in awe and complete fear of those blue skies. I walk back in just in time to watch the first tower collapse. In that moment I was screaming at the TV because the News Anchor was noting that something was happening but he wasn't willing to say it. I screamed, "IT IS FALLING YOU IDIOT, it is falling, Oh God, all of those people!" In that moment I couldn't fathom why he didn't say, 'the South Tower is falling.' In this moment, I have the clarity to realize, he didn't want to say anything which he wasn't absolutely sure of, especially something as horrifying as watching a Tower full of people collapse. He wanted to be certain but I think he also
wanted to believe this moment is not occurring. Then we watched in unbelief as the moment that brought us to our knees happened again. 
The rest of the afternoon was a blur. A blur of trying to figure out Where to be, Do I go to class? No one is there. What to do, Do I donate blood? Everyone is in a line, quietly sobbing. What do I think, Dear God Why? "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
My parents finally called, they were safe and on their way home. My friends and I gathered around the TV, in silence until we could watch no more. We left the television but the silence remained, while we ate and tried to process the horrors. 
What is a Moment of Silence? This morning 12 years later it is a series of short breaks in the noise that has returned to our lives. 12 years ago A Moment was a lifetime. Silence was the loss of innocence, the breaking of hearts and awakening of a generation. 
i. will. never. forget.