Monday, September 10, 2007

Changed

Tomorrow my two youngest daughters begin their first *official* day of preschool. Some of you might think I'm revving up for a big celebration-being left with only ONE child at home tomorrow morning. Those of you who know me better might be thinking that I'm walking around the house a tad melancholy tonight, eyeing baby pictures of my now 3 and 4 year old girls, fingering the material of their tiny first day of school outfits, letting my good night hugs linger just a moment longer than normal as I tuck them in to bed.

Actually, you'd all be a little bit right, but you'd be a little bit wrong, too.

Tomorrow, this special "first" in our world has a dark shadow cast upon it. Tomorrow is September 11th. Not even a decade ago, the mere mention of that date wouldn't cause anyone to raise an eyebrow anymore than if I'd said April 8th. Now, people inquiring about the start of preschool hear the words "September 11th" and simply nod their head in unspoken mourning for all events with the poor misfortune of occurring on that date.

On the first September 11th, I remember precisely where I was, where my husband, children and loved ones were. I can remember the clear, crisp blue sky as I drove up route 52 on my way to Pine Bush Elementary School. In waves, memories of that day cross my mind when the date of September 11th is announced: the intercom calling the first (of many) of my students out of class unexpectedly, the announcement minus any explanation for classrooms to begin lockdown procedures, the face of the assistant principal scrunched up against my classroom window beckoning me toward her, the crackle of the walkie talkie in her hand as she blurted out, "The country is under attack." handing my last student over to his parent and racing out of the building desperate to find my husband and children, the long walk up the sidewalk to my girlfriend's house where the comfort of my husband's arms gathered what little of me was left and held it together, the sounds of the innocent, unknowing footsteps of our children playing two floors above with their friends, the phone call from our principal that night declaring that school would be open the next day-we needed to be there for the children, hanging up wondering who, then, would be there for us, and falling asleep (or at least trying) to the Fox News crew attempting to make sense of the senseless-of that day-September 11th. The normalcy of that date abruptly vanished .

It will be many years before someone hears the date and doesn't stop to remember how their life changed on that day. My prayer is that in their future my youngest daughters will relish a bit of a return to normalcy on this date; that someone will ask them the significance of September 11th and they'll have to delve deep into their memories to respond, "September 11th? Oh yeah, that's the day we started preschool."

4 comments:

Amy said...

Jane - "Teaching a class full of innocent children" That's how the song goes. Every September 11th I think back to that day at PBE and all the times we were beckoned to the door for another awful update. Then we had to turn around and continue teaching, trying not to let our little ones see our fear. At the time I had a three year old and a three month old. They were at the babysitter's house just around the corner, but couldn't have been close enough during those moments unless they were in my arms. My husband was on base that day, also locked down... at a place I feared was a target. We just didn't know when they would stop.
We went home and tried to keep the news off of the TV because our three year old was getting confused. He didn't understand it had all stopped. He thought the buildings were still being hit because it kept being shown. For months after that he prayed to please keep his grandma out of the crashed buildings. He couldn't grasp that it wasn't still happening. Really, though, we could all still feel it happening.
Today, in the same room, I faced another group of second graders. They have such an innocence. They know 9/11 the same way we know Pearl Harbor or the day JFK was shot. One of my girls, though, knows too well what 9/11 has done. Her father will spend her entire second grade year in Iraq.
Thank you for your post. It helps to remember with someone who was "there".

Therese said...

I remember that it was a very stressful time in my husbands and my life. I remember waking that morning and in a half sleep listening to the news. When they said two planes have flown into the World Trade Centre I sat up and said to my husband did they really say that? He said yes I think so and then we got up and got ready for the day. I didn't think about it any further after that until I got to a prayer meeting that afternoon and they spent the entire time praying for all the people. Every year I pray for the people. My sister had been working in the world Trade Centre 6 months earlier and I am really grateful that she wasn't there that day. She knew a lot of the people that didn't survive.

patjrsmom said...

Thanks for sharing your stories. It is amazing that it has already been 6 years and yet, living in NY at the time, my memories are as clear as if it were yesterday.

Jane

Life in Fitzville said...

I've been so busy with the beginning of school, I haven't been over, but I love your new header!

And that day... my neighbor and very good friend was scheduled to be on one of those flights. At the very last minute, unknown to us (or her husband) she switched flights for one reason or another. That decision saved her life. It took all day for her to be able to contact us though, many tears were shed.

My brother works in DC and is at the Pentagon a lot. I was so worried about him. It turned out he had a meeting there, but stopped for a coffee. He came out of the coffee shop and watched it happen.

It's amazing how you can start crying just thinking back on these things. My youngest girl was baptised the Sunday right after 9/11, and our priest gave an absolutely beautifu sermon about life going on, and God overpowering the evil with new birth. There wasn't a dry eye in the church.