When I sat glued to my television seven years ago this morning, watching the terrorist attacks of 9/11 unfold in all their horror, I recall thinking that one of the most terrifying ways to die would be to be on one of those planes. I have some fears about flying, so I couldn’t even wrap my mind around the sense of rage and injustice mixed with all-consuming dread that those poor people must have felt in their last moments. That’s about as bad as it gets, I thought.
As the anniversaries have rolled by and I’ve grown and changed since that day back when I was a single woman, I now have a new perspective. There would be something worse than to be stuck facing imminent death in one of the towers or the planes: to be stuck there with your child.
A detail of the tragedy that escaped me back when I was single was that some of the people on those flights had their children with them. Most of the people who perished that day may have had some small bit of comfort knowing that at least their loved ones were safe and sound, far away from this hellish scene. Not so for the people whose children occupied the seats next to them on the doomed flights.
I think about those parents and their children every time the subject of September 11th comes up. The sorrow that grips my heart when I think of what they experienced is beyond description. It also makes me appreciate the simple gift of safety. It’s such a fundamental part of life here in modern America that it’s one of the easiest luxuries to take for granted; but truly, it is a great luxury. For all the difficulties and chaos I might face today, there have been many parents in many times and places who would give anything to simply be as safe as I am. If only for today, I hope that I can let go of all the usual irritations and complaints, and simply bask in the comfort of knowing that at least we’re all safe and sound here in our little house.
I ask Our Lady for her prayers today, as she knows what it’s like to realize that someone is about to murder your innocent child. And for those of you who are inclined, please join me in a prayer for the repose of the souls of the victims of September 11th, especially those whose children sat next to them as the planes went down.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescat in pace. Amen.
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