I wish I could write as eloquently as Katelyn. Her story brought me to tears first thing this morning and they have been close to the surface all day. Denten and I were living in Cedar City at Sunset Ridge. I was in the bathroom getting ready for work when I turned on the TV in my bedroom. Denten had already gone to work at the middle school. News of the terrorist attacks was everywhere but it took me a while to realize that this was live, happening now. I remember sitting on my bed, glued to the footage with my phone in my hand. I remember trying to get a hold of family members and hearing from my mom that no one knew where Katelyn was yet. I felt shaken and peaceful at the same time. I knew somehow that she was fine, but I was scared for her, being there alone. I didn’t know whether to be scared for me. Would these awful people touch small-town Southern Utah? I pulled myself away and drove to Head Start where I was working in a social work capacity with their child care programs. I don’t remember much about what I did, except that I couldn’t focus and didn’t stay long. I felt like I was in a dream. Driving back home I remember looking at the sky and thinking it was clear and blue and yet there was a darkness that I felt all around me. I spent time curled up sitting on our blue couch watching, hanging on any bit of news about what was happening on the East Coast.
Denten found a TV at the middle school in Coach Barnes’ office. At some point he talked to Katelyn and let me know she was ok.
I don’t know if 10 years is a big deal because 10 is a nice number or if Bid Laden being found this year plays a part, but it seems big to me this year. The terror, the destruction, the heartache and the heroes all stand out. I remember feeling a sense of community that I had never felt before that extended from one side of the country to the other. Kids made ribbons and sold pins. There were fundraisers for the victim’s families. There was this commonality that I shared with everyone I encountered and I loved that spirit. I wish it would have lasted longer. Criticism of how GW handled everything was quick to come and the critical eye propelled from there. I wanted the ‘banding together’ part to last longer than the ‘he’s not doing it right’ part. The flag meant more to me after the attacks. I always had respect for it, but it was a symbol of survival after that. Music about America and that day still makes me stop and listen closely. I wondered for days after 9.11 how life was supposed to just go on. How we were just supposed to go back to doing what we always did like nothing happened. So much had changed and I felt it deep inside of me but I didn’t know what to do about it. But I suppose that’s how it is. When tragedy strikes, we mourn and we grieve and we support and then we feel gratitude and we keep moving. We take those experiences and we let them change us so while life continues, it does so with us a little better, a little brighter and a little more hopeful than before.
There are images that are forever in my mind and guarantee that I will always remember. It’s not a feeling of anger or hate or fear that I carry. It’s one of reverence and solidarity and respect. and Hope.