I was eight years old. My sister, mom and I went on a bike ride. My dad stayed home because he was working nights at the time. Our internet wasn't working, so my mom wanted to stop at my gramma's house to check her email. My mom looked worried after she had done that, but we continued our ride home. When we arrived home, my dad was at the door to our basement. I remember his exact words: "Stace, you gotta come see this." My mom ran downstairs. We could hear them screaming and crying. I was so scared. But I was the big sister, so I remember hugging Sarah as she asked me "Why are mommy and daddy so scared?". I couldn't answer. I didn't like that.
The phone was ringing off the hook that day. Turned out my gramma, who works for FEMA, was less than 15 blocks away in her office, and family and friends were calling to check if she was okay. My mom always answered the phone, but she never had an answer. She kept calling my gramma, but she never picked up.
My parents eventually told my sister and I what had happened. I kept a diary at the time, and I still have it somewhere. I have about five entries I wrote that day. One day, maybe I'll get it published. Reflections of an eight year old's experience of a national tragedy. My explanation to my diary about what had happened was simple. There were some not nice people who didn't like America. They flew a plane into a big building in New York City and lots of people got hurt. Some even died.
I wasn't allowed to watch the footage, and I'm glad.
My gramma was okay. Her whole floor had swarmed to the windows to watch the buildings fall. She was answering everybody else's phone calls. That night, we were at her house. I saw part of the TV footage. I will never be able to erase the image of people running and screaming from the falling buildings. The next day, my gramma rented a car and drove into the city. She had to LIVE in New York for about a year to deal with the turmoil.
I'll never forget. I hope you won't either.
This was in my Church bulletin this week, and I thought I'd share:
MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL
You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001.
Neither will I.
I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say 'Good Bye'. I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, 'Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK... I am ready to go.'
I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.
I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help.
'I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!' I said.
'Of course I will show you the way home - only believe in Me now.'
I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.
I was on all four of the planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith had saved them. I was in Texas, Virginia, California, Michigan, Afghanistan. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
Did you sense Me?
I want you to know that I saw every face.
I knew every name -though not all know Me.
Some met me for the first time on the 86th floor.
Some sought Me with their last breath.
Some couldn't hear me calling to them through the smoke and flames; 'Come to Me... this way... take my hand.'
Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.
But, I was there.
I did not place you in the Tower that day.
You may not know why, but I do... However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?
Sept. 11 2001, was not the end of the journey for you. But someday, your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are 'read to go.' I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.