Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear 9/11

It was a fateful day 12 years ago. Little did any of us know how our lives would be turned upside down.

The night before I told the cat (RIP Peaches, 1989-2006) that if my alarm did not go off to wake me at 6 because I needed some last minute studying for a French exam the next morning. 

Sure enough, I felt a heavy pounce and heard a loud thud. I looked at the clock. It was just after 6. My exam was at 9. I needed to park at 8 and walk over to the student center.

I arrived to a much deserted campus (then Troy State University, now Troy University). I listened to the radio getting some last minute study time when I heard that the first tower had been hit by a plane. 

A few minutes later, I heard that the second tower had been hit. All I could think was "what's going on?" 

I walked into the student center to head to my exam in the disability services office. It was deserted save for my French professor watching the televisions which were tuned to the news.

I arrived back to my car (1998 Honda Civic) and checked the bag phone. Missed call. I called my mom and she asked if I knew what was going on. I said I heard but hadn't watched anything yet but would I got back to the house. She said that Uncle Mike was supposed to fly back to California from Florida (he works for NASA and studies climate issues-hurricanes, the ozone hole, etc.) but that because of what happened in New York his plane got grounded but he was safe. 

I didn't realize the magnitude until later. I got on my e-mail. I had an e-mail from the lady our campus ministry did missions with over the spring break in Manhattan. She was okay, but the ministry was just blocks from the towers.

I looked at my picture I had taken. Less than six months had gone by and now the skyline was different.

Another e-mail. Campus wide prayer rally.

I made a phone call. Are we having puppet practice at church? Yes. 

Puppets was at 6. I told the director that I needed to leave at 6:30 for the prayer rally. He said we'd dismiss early anyway. No one was really in the mood. I left the church. 

Stop light was red. I stopped. 

I had a strange series of dreams where people close to me were going to have different injuries and the dreams kept coming true. The week before it was a car accident. 

Light turned green. I very slow started into the intersection feeling very strange. 


I looked up to see a teenage driver talking on his cell phone in a red pickup truck. He ran the red light and hit my front driver's side. 

I motioned to the light. I rolled down the window. I called my mom so she could arrive soon. 

The driver rushed over and asked if I was okay. I heard him tell the person on the phone he had just hit a car and needed the number for the police.

A sheriff arrived and began directing traffic around the scene. 

An African American man who was jogging by came to me and asked if there was anything he could do. I told him I just left that big church over on the corner one block over and the name of the puppet director. He was a police officer that was off duty. Within minutes, the director arrived. I never saw that man again. Was he an angel?

My director helped me start gathering everything I needed for the police. The police finally arrived and instructed us to move our cars to a parking lot across the way. My director tried to start my car back up. It grinded but wouldn't start.

He put it in neutral and got it moved. A piece of the headlight fell off. I went into shock. 

"Susan, are you okay? Do you need an ambulance? Who can we call? How long until your mom is here?" "Susan, we need to tow your car to the shop. Insurance will work with you tomorrow. Do you need an ambulance?"

Total damage to the $9000 car (blue book) was $4500. Air bag had to be checked as well because it didn't deploy. I was in a rental for a month. The insurance said had he hit one inch further back, I could've been killed. The guy was honest and admitted fault even after being advised to lie. And the physical damages to my body are permanent. But I am alive.

Many people died on 9/11. And that event was very tragic. My accident could've killed me, but it didn't. I will never be able to forget it because of when it happened. But I am ready to do my best to move forward. This year is the first time I have to drive somewhere on 9/11. It's the first time I have somewhere to be. I'll probably need to leave earlier and drive slower, but I will do it. 

So now I will ask...What were you doing on 9/11? Where were you when it happened? 

Pray for everyone who lost someone that day. Pray for those who were somehow affected. Pray for the families who lost loved ones in Iraq and in Afghanistan in the months that followed (including the Spann family of Winfield - cousins). Pray for anyone who has to travel. Pray for this nation, for its leaders, and for its citizens. 

What was meant for evil, God turned into a blessing. And God is in control. 

So dear 9/11, your power over me, your ability to create fear in me, is now over. I have to move forward. I have to do it for me. I will always remember you, but I am tired of your grip on me. I'm going to kick your butt this year. Sincerely, Me