Friday, September 12, 2008

In Memoriam

1. Seven years and one day ago, the world changed. Most everyone I talk to remembers where they were and what they were doing when they received news of the tragedy in New York. Many people were already watching the news and saw the second plane hit the tower in real time.

I was eighteen years old. I had just started college and was just getting used to the college life. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I didn't have class until 11:50am, so I took those opportunities to sleep in. 9/11 was no different. At about 8:30 am, I heard talking outside my dorm room door. It was the tone of the voices that roused me. I heard snippets like, "Did you hear...?" and "Oh my gosh..." I got up and read an email from my mom telling me to turn on the news. And there it was. Then, as now, I could not put into words what I felt. The defining world event to usher me into adulthood was undefinable. The only thing I and my classmates could figure out was that the world would never be the same.

Yesterday, I had three piano students, two eleven-year-olds and one who was ten. The older ones kind of remember September 11, 2001, the younger one not so much. I'm growing to hate the cliché "I feel old," but it did make me feel old to see these kids, learning and growing in a world in which most of their lives have been post-9/11. I wish I could articulate what this all really means to me. Though it was seven years ago, it still feels like it's too soon. I'll get back to you in 20 years on that one.

Lastly, I can't begin to imagine how the family and friends of the victims felt then or now. They share their personal tragedies with each other and the rest of the world. I have no more words.

2. You might say Erin's grandmother lived a long life, but many people who make it to age 73 continue to live another 10-20 years. Her sudden death from a massive heart attack is so sad, tragic, and inconceivable. How is it fair? Why her, why now? No one can answer these questions.

3. It was a long, long drive back from the doctor's office after I found out the baby in my womb no longer lived. I pass that doctor's office several times per week on my way to and from my church, where I work and teach. And every single time I've driven past it since February 13th of this year, I remember that day. Despite the amount of time that's passed and the fact that I have healed physically and, much more importantly, emotionally, the memories are getting stronger.

I remember the crushing feelings of sadness and injustice that descended upon me like a violent rain storm. I threw an angry fit as soon as I got home, pleading with God that there might be something I could do or think to bring my baby back to life. But there was nothing. All I could do was grieve, and wait. Time has given me perspective, but I still can't explain why. There's never an answer.

The only thing that keeps me from becoming a total pessimist is the knowledge that death and tragedy are not supposed to make sense. We plan for and hope for good. It makes sense, we understand why, when good things happen. Tragedy is chaos and sin in the world messing up our best efforts. It's not worth trying to figure it out. I believe God does not cause evil, but He works good through it. Though my feeble human understanding still craves to know "Why???," I continually hope and pray for the understanding that the question is irrelevant. Time gives the perspective to see the good that comes after bad, and patience is our greatest virtue in a world that doesn't make sense.

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