eleven.

I will never forget the morning of September 11, 2001. Before terror hit our country in the most keen and painful way, it was already a memorable day for me: 9/11/01 was circled in red on my calendar because it was my first day of High School. I remember waking up early, reading my Bible like I always did, and hopping in the shower as Mom prepared the fresh, new books on our kitchen table. Being homeschooled meant we would be right there all day - and I loved it like that. I remember being excited - a new chapter of life, a new season beginning... another step towards growing up. I remember rinsing the shampoo out of my hair in the shower and humming some pop song when I heard a knock at the bathroom door. Through the steam, Mom told me to hurry up - we needed to go over to Scott and Belinda's house (we didn't have cable TV at the time) - I asked, "Why?" through the shower curtain. And Mom quietly said, "An airplane somehow flew into the World Trade Center and lots and lots of people are dying...hurry... and pray." Her voice was strained, scared. It sounded like she'd been crying. She shut the door and I rushed to rinse the shampoo out of my hair. I skipped the conditioner. It didn't really even matter at a time like this. I remember standing there under the hot water and thinking - I didn't really even know quite what the World Trade Center was. I'm a born and raised California girl - and I'd never even been to New York City; but somehow, it hit me hard. With just that fragmented piece of information - I just knew, somewhere deep in my heart, that this was big. And that it was terrible. I pictured myself just two years before - on my way to visit Israel on a church trip, and our layover was in New Jersey. I remembered standing at the big window in the Newark airport, straining my eyes over the sea of sparkling lights in the inky dark night - and seeing those two very tall towers that Dad pointed out - to me, they looked huge, unshakable, steady...just like America. Now, I wept. Looking back, I really had no idea how monumental this event would be for our nation, for my life - my perspective. As I stood there in the shower, all I knew was that people had died and this was big... and bad. I didn't understand then that our country was under severe attack by terrorists who wanted us dead - in fact, at this point, no one even knew it was a terrorist attack. I didn't know how many families would be left fatherless, motherless, childless. 

I had no idea the days and weeks ahead of our country - I had no idea that countless firefighters and rescue workers would be sifting through that toxic, fiery rubble for months to come, desperately looking for signs of human life - finding fragmented pieces of torn apart, unrecognizable bodies. I had no idea the way my generation would forever be changed by the events of that day. No idea that my life and perspective and heart would be altered. No clue how this event would shape my generation, how it would color how young people viewed everything and how the future would be decidedly marked by it. 

That the first day of High School was a stepping stone into a less-innocent mindset. I didn't know how drastically America would change - from the economy to the way we traveled - to the bloody war that would soon begin, taking from our lives people we loved and treasured. I knew none of these realities that early morning; but I wept, nevertheless. I don't think I'd ever really wept before. Oh, I'd cried. But never wept, not like this. I was just 14 and my life had mostly been the picture of happiness, innocent, and peace. But somehow, my heart knew - my heart reeled and grieved and my body shook with sobs that morning for the people in the rubble, the people who lost family members, loved ones... the kids who started High School just like me that day, who would come home to an empty house and a missing Dad or Mom. I spent that first school day huddled in front of the TV in shock with close friends and family. 

I started High School on 9/11, but not in the way my teacher-Mom planned. Instead of fresh textbooks and newly sharpened pencils, I watched CNN while my perceptions of life, dreams, loss, my future, my country, and the world shifted. A sense of fear, maturity, and a new reality set in and changed my heart forever. But I was one of the lucky ones. My heart ached for those who were there, who were directly affected. And it still aches to this day.
Our country reeled in pain, sorrow, and shock that Tuesday morning. And eleven years later on this Tuesday morning, I don't really think we've stopped reeling. I know I haven't even tasted the very tiniest tip of the iceberg of horror and devastation that some Americans suffered, and continue to suffer, because of 9/11. The effects of the terrorist acts that fateful day are very far reaching, monumental and defining in our nation's history. 

Today, High School is long since completed. I'm now an adult trying to figure out life in my twenties. And our country and personal lives have taken many turns and ups and downs since the horror, injustice, and unthinkable loss and pain we experienced on 9/11/01. Today, my thoughts and prayers are with those who experienced loss that day. Who lost loved ones, family, friends, happiness, health, peace of mind, dreams, and faith. Those who lost life, hope, and love.

Eleven years later, my prayer is this: that America takes our broken pieces, the suffering, the loss, the confusion, the pain, and the fear that still haunts us - and that we give those pieces to God. For, after all - He is the only one who can heal and mend, redeem and save, give peace and restoration.

Hug somebody you love today. Life is precious and can change in an instant.

XO

Erin


// Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
and all that is within me, 
bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits - 
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit 
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord works righteousness 
and justice
for all the oppressed. // 
-Psalm 103:1-6