You know, there are some days when this anonymity thing really gets me down. I feel like if I could share the names of some cities things would become so much clearer for you. You would nod your head and go "OH...I get it...she lived THERE!! No wonder she feels the way she feels." But alas, I must not. Today is just one of those days, though, where you would understand more of what I am trying to say if you knew WHERE this took place.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and teaching 4-6th graders. I woke up that morning feeling weird. That's not uncommon for me. But I felt slow and draggy (is that a word). I walked into my living room and saw the world's largest spider. I had never seen a spider this big. It scared the hell out of me and just made me feel all that much weirder. My house had a giant, space-alien spider that potentially could have crawled all over me and covered my mouth, thus suffocating me by its massive size.
I started my drive to work. Every day I took a small, back road that circled around the World's Most Expensive Seminary. A lot of people took this road. It normally was always busy. But on this day, something strange was going on. I came to the main intersection to find an empty police car with flashing lights. There was another car that had hit a pole and one more that was left turned sideways in the middle of the intersection. You would think with all of this mayhem there would have been a lot of people milling around, but there wasn't. I was the sole person in the area. I have no idea where the cop was, or the accident victims, or the other traffic for that matter. I was alone. For just a brief moment I felt like I was in one of the Kirk Cameron books and that Armageddon had really come. Everyone was just gone.
I got to work and told my boss about my weird morning. I even told her "Today is going to be a bad day." She tried to joke me out of my funky mood and told me that I was going to create a bad day if I didn't snap out of it. But just an hour later, the director of my school came rushing into the classroom in frantic tears, pulled me aside and told me to get online and find out what was happening. The radio had reported a plane had crashed into the WTC in NY. My kids saw her face and looked to me to know what was going on. I excused myself from the room and got online. The computer was frozen and slow, so many people were googling to get the news. But I finally found out. I was just sickened by what I saw.
I returned to the room to find one of my most troublesome parents had already arrived to yank her child out of class. We were fairly close to our state's WTC and she didn't want to take any chances. By now my kids were in a panic with not knowing. So I sat them down and told them what had occured. They questioned me relentlessly, asking me if the Towers were going to fall. My dad was a scientist who specialized in corrosion and destruction. I knew what was going to happen. I told them that the buildings were built to sustain a hit from a small plane and that they were also built to withstand earthquakes. They would stand for long enough to get most of the people out, but they were going to fall. The kids focussed on the "most". It was about that time that the director came in again, took me aside and told me one of the buildings had fallen. There was nothing more we could say or do, so one of my kids asked if we could sing peace songs. They wanted to send out love to the people through song. I love Montessori kids.
So we sang. We sang as the firefighters and EMT's and employees and volunteers lost their lives. We sang as people learned they were orphans and widows. We sang as the world watched the second tower fall. We sang. There was nothing more we could do.
When I got home that night, I held my pregnant belly and finally cried. I cried for all the people who lost their lives. I cried for the people left behind. But mostly I cried for the world that I was bringing this new life into. Would she ever be safe?
My daughter was born a few months later and we gave her a special name. Her name translates into "Shining Light of Hope." I hope that we are raising her to know that she has to rise up and help to make a change; to have compassion for others who don't follow the same religious beliefs that we do; to believe that there is a world worth saving.
But for now, I will teach her to sing a song of peace and hope that is enough.
"Peace is the world smiling,
Peace is a gentle dove,
Peace is sharing,
Peace is caring,
Peace is filling the world with love."