Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Haunting Memory

I remember Monday, September 10, 2001 very clearly.  I was working as a substitute teacher in the Beaverton School District outside of Portland, Oregon, and I worked as an aide's sub for a middle school special education class that day.  I remember the attractive concrete courtyard leading to the building's double doors.  I remember the office with its plethora of walkways zig-zagging between large desks and cubicles.  I remember accompanying my wheelchair-bound charge that day, a young boy, to his language arts class, and I remember the short conversation I had with the attractive male teacher of that class about the ups and downs of the teaching profession.

I don't remember many other sub days from that Fall with quite so much clarity, but I do remember that day.  I guess I remember it because it was the day that preceded 9/11, and like most everybody else in America, my world was rocked on Tuesday.  Somehow my mind filed September 10 away somewhere.  Maybe it is filed under the heading, "What Normal Days Were Like Before That Tuesday."

I was probably one of the last people in America to hear about the events of September 11, 2001.  I'm not exaggerating -- I was probably one of the very last people to hear about it.  The reason is multi-faceted:  I didn't have to work that day, neither at Starbucks nor as a substitute teacher, so I slept in a bit.  I also lived alone, and I didn't live in the same town as any family members.  I had a television, but I rarely watched the thing, and I didn't turn it on that morning.  I didn't have a computer then, and I don't think I even knew how to navigate the internet, anyway.  Finally, I didn't go anywhere that morning.  If memory serves, I think I just did some laundry, took a shower, ate, and read.

My phone rung at about one o'clock Pacific Time -- seven full hours after the first attack -- and my mom asked me if I had heard "what had happened."  She then proceeded to unfold the horrific news, and I remember the first thing I said:  "I hate Satan."

I understand if that sounds like superstitious nonsense to someone without a biblical worldview.  It probably would have sounded weird to me at one time, too.  But I vividly remember thinking, as my mother shared the details of the terrorist attacks, that everything about it was evil personified.  The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  I still think that today.

Of course I know that there is a completely tangible element to those attacks, too.  There's the politics, the economics, the bare bones religious reasons.  But there is more to it than that, make no mistake about it.  Evil is real, and we saw its face that day. 

Once Jerry and I were talking about 9/11.  He commented on how the attacks weren't intended to be merely physical and political -- they were intended to be psychological, too.  He's right.  Thousands of people died that day, and there are others who survived the ordeal.  But what of the rest of us?  We watched in horror, and as we watched we seemed to know that our very minds and hearts were being violently invaded.  We still see images of clear blue skies polluted with smoke, of precious souls willingly jumping hundreds of feet to certain death, of commercial airliners turned into screaming missiles.  That day was intended to haunt our minds.  And it worked.

I was driving with my Peanut this morning, and as we passed the nearby bank I noticed the flag at half-staff.  It occurred to me how Lilia will never remember, like I do, what a normal day was like before September 11, 2001.  She will always be in a post 9/11 world.  Sure, we still have "normal days," and our country's collective soul heals and moves on.  But I think that every one of us who remember that day will carry it around somehow, deep inside of us, like a haunting memory.

No comments: