I wrote this post on the tenth anniversary of September 11.
Ten years ago today, our country was viciously attacked like no other time in history. Like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and Martin Luther King Jr., the day will ever be in my memory along with where I was and what I was doing.
That particular September morning didn't start "as usual." I woke up to discover that my van, which was parked two doors from the front of my house, had been stolen. I quickly called police and then arranged a ride for my daughter to get to school.
I used to watch a little boy a few hours a week at my house. His mother came to pick him up and we started chatting on my front porch about my missing vehicle. My neighbor came out of his house and told us about the first plane that hit the Towers. We went inside and turned on the TV and continued our conversation.
We were about to decide where to go to breakfast when the second plane slammed into the other Tower as we watched. It was so surreal. I still remember watching it with complete disbelief.
We both immediately realized that something was very wrong. One plane slamming into a World Trade Center Tower was one thing, but another one, so soon after the first was quite another.
The mother's brother was on a plane to go to another state, so she went directly home to see if she could get in touch with him. Shortly afterward the police were at my door. My stolen van had become of great concern. The police officer told me that any van stolen that morning was considered suspect of a possible attack on our city.
My three kids were in Catholic school at the time. When I picked up my daughter she told me how they were told what happened and how they were allowed to watch some of it on TV. One of her first questions to me was, "Is Chicago next?"
I told her I didn't think so. I told her that New York and the Twin Towers were the primary targets. But I was scared.
The days following were eerily quiet. We are accustomed to planes flying overhead going to and coming from O'Hare airport. All air traffic had been stopped and even though we live on a fairly busy street, there was a stillness that was palpable.
A few days later, there was a call to light a candle and to put it on your front porch in remembrance. My daughter's godmother lived a couple of blocks away and she and I lit a candle and sat on her front porch and looked at the empty sky while we talked quietly about what happened.
Even after ten years, the nagging "why" is forever in the back of my head. Why did God let this happen? Was there some great lesson that each of those tortured families of lost loved ones had to learn? And if that was the case, couldn't they have learned it in a different way?
Years ago a woman in my prayer group (who suffered many tragedies in her own family) told me that there is always a blessing that comes from tragedy. She was emphatic about it and cited the many blessings that came after the tragedies that her family experienced. It was a great comfort to her.
To be honest, had I lost a loved one on that day instead of my van, I often wonder if I could walk upright even today.
My belief in God, His Son, His Mother and our Church is strong, but I have to admit that my faith would have been shaken to it's very core if I had lost more than that van.