Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Boatlift of September 11

There are countless stories of everyday citizens and civil servants who have chosen to "do something" and changed history for another person and his/her family.   To THAT person, you changed history.  I have intentionally stayed away from the media the past week simply because I have long recognized that my emotions remain simply raw and I just assumed that it wouldn't scratch the itch of what I needed without opening some wounds that I didn't want re-opened on accident.  And frankly, the only five minutes I watched I was so irritated with the commentator talking over the moment of silence (explaining to me why I should be quiet!), that it was easy to stay away after that...

This is a video link that was shared with me that captures a resilient spirit and a story you may not have heard.  Tom Hanks narrates the story of the half million people who were evacuated from Manhattan by boat over nine hours.  It's the story of a coast guard call out and the response of private boat owners who showed up for a chaotic but heroic rescue.  This story was a bowl of oatmeal for my soul this morning...filling but not too much.  

We enjoyed our sausage and peppers meal here at our house.  Caleb was only a twinkle in my eye in 2001 and we've never talked with him before specifically about September 11th  (except he would tell anyone that we always eat
sausage and peppers each year on this date to remember, to honor the date and to show gratefulness to God).

As a 9/11 disaster relief worker at Ground Zero with my husband, this event wasn't something distant several states away.  It wasn't just a news story somewhere over there.  It became part of me. It's woven in me because of the people that I met, the stories that they told me, and what we experienced ourselves during our weeks in New York City.   Because this is the 10th anniversary, Caleb who is seven years old explained that he would have been "negative three years old" when it happened in 2011...  This weekend
his 1st grade homework assignment was to talk with his parents about heroes.  So we worked on that after our meal.  He drew a picture and wrote on the three lines about what made his choice a hero.  So interesting to see the world from a young kid's eyes. 

Over our meal, I did my best to answer "what's the big deal" questions and "Mom why would someone want to hurt so many people?" I didn't want to answer his questions more deeply than he needed or wanted on this first time around.  (Like giving a full explanation of how the watch is built and how it works when someone just wants to know what time it is!)  His questions are ones that I've never needed to answer aloud before either...so that was actually pretty challenging.  It would be hard enough to answer it for myself or an adult but then trying to figure out how to frame it for a child...well that's another story. 

Seeing his drawings reminds me of all the drawings made by school children who were his age in 2001.  On one of our trips, our team processed cards and drawings and letters from school children, sorting them for delivery.  We looked through the box of cards I was allowed to bring home with me with the caveat that they are to be used to help honor 911.  The drawings are remarkably graphic and the messages were raw and from the heart.  I wonder how much those images are still imprinted on their hearts and minds now that they are teens and college students.  I wonder how it has shaped their generation.

For me today, healing meant eating a meal together as a family, talking about how gracious God was to protect so many, and then it ended with a long slow hug and a wiping of my wet cheeks with butterfly kisses.