I hadn’t intended to blog today, just because everyone and their grandmothers seem to be sharing 9/11 memories.  Then I read a friend’s blog, and she talked about sharing her memories for her kids’ sake. I do think it’s important for them to know how I felt because the initial hours of the attacks forever changed my parenting.

It actually all started two years prior with the Columbine school shooting.  My oldest, Jeremy, was in middle school then, and although it did cause me to think differently about my kids’ safety at school (and pray a lot more!), I wasn’t overcome by fear.  Still, it was the beginning of a long process of letting go.  Each day, I let them go out the door to school with the hope they would return several hours later.

Anyone will tell you, the morning of 9/11/01 began like any other.  Once again, Jeremy and Kelsey went off to school, Dan went to work, and I was at home with my preschooler, Emma.  For some unknown reason, I had the TV on, which I almost never did. (Oddly enough, that happened to me one other time: the day the Space Shuttle exploded.)  I was in the bedroom folding laundry when the first news reports came filtering in.  At first, it seemed it was a horrible accident, but it quickly became apparent that something else was going on.

When the second building was hit, it was as if that plane had flown right into my heart.  There was a gaping hole that was overflowing with emotion.  My immediate thought was, “We are at war!  Someone is attacking the United States!”  I thought of old war movies with bombings and chaos, and wondered if that was how life was going to be from now on.  I watched in horror as people jumped from the burning towers and people on the street ran from the debris.  Growing up in the Cold War, I suddenly questioned why we had done away with bomb shelters.  What should I do?  Should I take my little one and go to the basement?  Fear, anger, and grief gripped me as I realized my family was scattered in the midst of all this.

Then it hit me hard.  I might never see my husband or two children on this earth again.

I went to my knees and prayed to the God of hope.

I was relieved to discover the phones were working and talked to Dan about what was going on.  I was extremely concerned for Kelsey.  She was in elementary school, and when I called there, they said the kids were huddled around the television just like everyone else.  She was my sensitive girl, and I wasn’t sure if she could handle it.  The school told parents they could pick up their children if they wanted but reassured us they were doing fine.  All I knew was, I wanted my family home.  Together.

Dan went to the school to see if Kelsey wanted to come home, but she said she was fine and stayed.  I had to endure hours before everyone was finally back at home.  My heart was so heavy all day for those who lost loved ones.  The attacks had stopped, so I worried less.  But like everyone else, I wondered when or if it would happen again.

The next day, I had to send them all out the door again.  It was different this time.  My level of trust they would return safely was at an all time low.  And I remember this clearly…Jeremy said, “Mom, Pastor Dan (our youth pastor at the time) always says we should never say goodbye.  Instead we should say ‘See ya later.’  Because one way or another, we’re gonna see each other later.”  From that day forward, that became the way we parted.  “See ya later, I love you.”

I said this day forever changed my parenting.  My kids would probably tell you I worry too much.  I make them check in when they are gone, I can’t sleep until they get home at night…stuff like that.  Mostly though, 9/11 changed my parenting because I learned not to take my family for granted.  I learned to treasure time spent with them, and to try to avoid going to bed or leaving one another angry.  Have I always been perfect with this?  No.  Not even close.  But I think 9/11 made me better because I learned the value of hope.

Today, I’ve decided to mark this anniversary by trusting God.  Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope.”  Each day, as my family scatters to work and school, I am going to pray this verse and wait for the overflow.

See ya later.  I love you.

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