Last Sunday was September 11th, a decade since THE September 11th, but that’s not what this post is about. In no way do I want to minimize that horrible day, but this post is not about that horror. Instead, this post is about the passage of time.
Each year, I feel a sense of dread as September 11th approaches. There was an incredible loss of life and a loss of innocence, trust, and safety. I didn’t know anyone who died on that tragic day, but still I mourn. All of our lives changed, and most of us have grown accustomed to the impact of increased security, awareness, and caution. Now we take the changes in stride. A decade later, we don’t give the changes in our lives much thought.
Last Sunday, I didn’t plan on watching the footage that I knew would be playing over and over again on many channels. It was a beautiful fall day. For the first time in weeks, I had nothing planned. It was the first weekend in over a month that I could spend any way I chose. The boys were moved back to school. It was one of those perfect Sunday mornings that was filled with relaxation and possibility.
T was in the kitchen frying bacon. He was making french toast for the girls. When I walked into the living room, Emily had a news channel on, and I was drawn in to what she was watching. I couldn’t look away. Em was on the couch, and I sat down in the red chair. We sat and watched, remembering that day a decade ago. I worked at the grade school back then, and Emily was in first grade. I went to work before school started, and she and Luke sat in my office with me until the bell rang. Luke was in third grade. Andy was across the street at the middle school in sixth grade. Lola? There was no Lola. There were no plans to even have Lola! Emily and I laughed about that, and then we once again turned back to the TV.
Lola came wandering into the room in her jammies. She snuggled up to me, sat down, and watched for a little while. She asked, “Is this real?” When I said that it was, she asked, “Is it happening right now?” She was drawn in, too. She sat still and quiet next to me.
Before long, I had to walk away. I went upstairs to hide my tears. I stood in the bathroom shaking and remembering. Eventually, I calmed down and went back down to the living room. T was had finished cooking the bacon and was trying to entice the girls to come to the kitchen and eat, but they didn’t want to stop watching TV. I sat back down with Lola. T stood by my chair and watched for a little while, too.
T said, “Think of how your life has changed since then, Pam.” Yes, I agreed. Things are different now, and he said, “No, think of how YOUR life has changed. Your whole life is different.” I sat and thought about what he said. It was profound, at least to me. It has been unbelievable and unexpected, this journey of the past decade. Of all the decades of my life, these past ten years have held more changes than I would have ever imagined possible. Some of them were wonderful. Many of them were incredible, impossible. Others, I would choose to erase if I could.
The boys are gone now. They’re grown up and pursuing their own dreams. My little first-grader has become a beautiful young woman and my best friend, full of love and compassion. These past ten years have flown by, and without even noticing, my three little children have become wonderful adults. And Lola…. Where did she come from? She was not even a thought back then, yet here she is, this old-soul full of wisdom. While so much has changed, the blessings of having these wonderful children in my life has never faltered.
And me? Not much about my life, or ME, is the same. I no longer work part-time at the local grade school. Back then, I had no desire for a “career,” yet life lead me down a different path and to a career that I love. I knew what T meant when he said that my life has changed. In the past decade, our family has changed. Our marriage has changed. The dust still hasn’t settled from all of the changes. The direction is still not clear. We are still in the midst of a journey, not knowing where it will eventually lead us.
People have come in and out of my life. Some have remained and are now a part of the daily fabric of my life. Others have chosen not to remain in my life. Dad is gone. Mom is now my responsibility. I am in the process of emptying out my childhood home and preparing it for sale. Many of the things I had hoped, dreamed, envisioned for my life are not to be. My focus has changed. In some cases, I have fought that change, kicking and screaming. The clear lens that once held my view of life is often cloudy now. I stretch and strain to see through the lens that is my life, but it is impossible to get a clear view.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ I Corinthians