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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning

DISCLAIMER:   I'm sure in the last 10 years, thousands of people have written about their experience with September 11 with more eloquence, have written a more thoughtful story and one that is more articulate and less choppy, but this is not one of them.  This is extreme stream of consciousness writing here

One of the country radio stations we listen to is playing a remake of Bryan Adam's song, "Heaven" with voice overs of a little girl talking to her daddy in Heaven over the last 10 years - all the milestones she's gone through the last 10 years.   According to my vast (insert sarcasm) research on Google, I've come up with this link and believe it to be the most accurate version of the song we've heard on the Radio.

Maggie is so intrigued by this song.  On the way to my Bible study this morning at our church, this song came on the radio and Maggie and Will were asking me why that girl in the song is talking to her daddy in Heaven (which I couldn't believe they gleaned that from the song since there is only the implication that the daddy is dead).  So I told them today about 9/11 - it was strange having to explain it to them - that we hadn't explained it to them before now.  But then, it's not something that is easy to explain to children their age.  I  mean, let's face it, until it actually happened, I don't think that even the potential of such an event  even crossed anyone's mind. At least, it never had for me.  I know I was aware the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and then the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, but I guess I myself was too young to attribute to those events the weight they were due.  I was only 17 and 19 at the times of those bombings and in that self-centeredness of youth, those events did not register with me significantly.

Now, here we are living in a Post 9/11 world and I am driving through our little city of Butler trying to explain to my children, whose biggest fear is foxes and coyotes and who have no idea what terrorists are, what 9/11 is all about.  My rather inadequate explanation went something like this:

In New York City there are very tall buildings called skyscrapers.  Those buildings are so tall you would have to stack four or five of these tall buildings in Butler on top of each other to even get close to how tall they are.  Back before you were born and before Momma & Daddy were even married, some very evil men got into airplanes and crashed those airplanes into some of those tall buildings and  caused those buildings to fall down.  It is very sad because there were people inside of those buildings and not all of them were not able to get out of the buildings before they fell down and those people died.  

After having told them this much, I started to get a little worried.  You know how as a parent, as you're trying to explain to your child in an age appropriate way something that you think they might find scary, you have this other internal voice in your head talking out the conversation simultaneously?  For instance:

What I think I want to tell the children:  10 years ago, very evil men stole airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center.
Simultaneous thought:  Oh no!  I can't tell them that!  They are going to be afraid that evil people could hijack airplanes again and then they'll never want to fly - not that we can afford to ever fly anywhere - nor do I want to have to put them through all that TSA stuff if we did want to fly somewhere - but if we ever need to fly somewhere, they're going to be scared because of what I'm telling them.  I'm not even going to mention Flight 93 and the Pentagon!

Maggie then asked, "Was that girl in that song's Daddy in that building?"  I explained to her that the the song represented what might be the life of a little girl who lost her Daddy on 9/11.  We talked about the fact that many people lost Mommies and Daddies, Aunts and Uncles, Grandmas and Grandpas and on and on.  I really thought the conversation was going to blossom into a much bigger conversation than it did - I anticipated questions about what might happen if something happened to me and Erik, questions about how God could allow all those people to be hurt, why did those men even want to fly airplanes into buildings, etc.  Instead, Maggie says, "Will, aren't you just so sad that had to happen?"   Will responded with a very melancholy yet emphatic, "Yes!" and the conversation was over.  They had no more questions, no more comments, we were just silent the rest of our drive.

I've tried for an hour to come up with an appropriate closing to this story of mine and it's just not coming to me.  I thought about just saving the draft and coming back to it, but then I decided that leaving it unfinished kind of sums up the whole September 11 experience - it is a story that we will never be able to "finish".

The title of this post references a song written and performed by Alan Jackson shortly after September 11.   I've included this link to a You Tube video of it.  May we never forget where we were the day the world stopped turning  . . .


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  2. Isn't it weird looking back at that day through the eyes as a parent now? I still can't believe it's been 10 years.