Who Are You Twenty Years After September 11?

I bet if you close your eyes, you can picture exactly where you were when you heard about 9/11.

My husband was at the field house of our college having his shoulder looked at. A baseball player, he’d gotten used to these daily massages for his pitching arm, and he would sit at the field house and watch the news while the doctor checked on him.

I was at the bank, opening our first joint checking account. We’d just gotten back from our honeymoon, a quick trip after a small wedding the Saturday before.

Our son was two and a half months old, still just a little pea in a stroller beside me, my foot rocking the wheels back and forth as he enjoyed his morning nap inside the bank.

My cell phone rang as I was about to sign what felt like my twentieth document.

Hey, babe, tell the bank lady to turn on the news. There’s been a terrible accident at the Twin Towers in NYC. A plane flew into…

And then, Oh my gosh, oh no. This wasn’t an accident. We’re being attacked.

He’d just witnessed the second tower getting hit.

The three of us, my husband, me and our newborn son, had just moved to a new city to attend the state college where he would play baseball.

We felt incredibly alone, the three of us, in a new place, not having a clue whether that little town would be next and what else was going to happen.

We sat glued to the television. Everyone did. It was talked about endlessly over the next few months, as we cleaned the remnants of what once was and sent our men and women off to fight a never-ending war, a war that, for all intents and purposes, has been happening not since September 11, but since extreme forms of religions first came at odds with the rest of the known world.

I don’t know that we can win a war fought so deeply based on feelings. I don’t know that anyone has ever had the power to change another person’s mind.

But I’ve changed. In the twenty years since 9/11, I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve given birth to three more children, and they’ve changed my heart, my life and my body in unimaginable ways.

I’ve lost special people and animals, like my favorite grandmother and my first dog.

I’ve made some awful mistakes, said some harsh words, almost destroyed sacred gifts, and had to ask for mountains of forgiveness.

I’ve been a great and a terrible friend.

I’ve left home and found home.

I’ve discovered that who I was is not who I am meant to be.

I’ve allowed dreams to die, and birthed new ones.

I’ve sent two babies into the world, and I’ve held loosely the two I still have at home.

I’ve stayed married longer than my parents. And I’m happy.

The most important way I’ve changed in twenty years, however, has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the One who made me:

In Twenty Years, I’ve learned that at the core of every human being is a longing to be loved, valued and accepted.

And in loving my neighbor, I am fighting every evil act imaginable.

Because love conquers all.

See you soon,


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