Eleven years ago, I went to class. I probably left early, the school year was still new. I probably left my cell phone at home and I didn’t own a laptop; those were not the days of religiously carrying ways to be contacted.
By the time I made it back to my dorm room, nearly 3 hours later, I had several emails and a dozen instant messages from my Mom. Later I learned that she had called my cell phone and dorm phone a dozen times each as well.
I was in Washington DC. I was nowhere near the Pentagon but, at that time, nobody knew who was in danger and who was safe. All my poor mother knew was that her daughter was in the city and the country had been attacked.
This morning, I will drop my daughter off at school. We may leave a bit early, the school year is still new. I will leave her there and travel 13 miles away from her. She doesn’t own a cell phone. She won’t carry a laptop. I won’t be able to contact her until I pick her up this afternoon.
Her school handbook lists out their emergency procedures. I skimmed over words like ‘lock-down’ when I first got the handbook. But last night I read them more carefully. Don’t we all at this time of year?
I have two children in this world. One wanders already, spending what feels like large amounts of time away from me. One travels with me everywhere, safely inside and oh, on days like today, do I ever want to keep him here.
I had an inkling, eleven years ago, of the fear my mother must have felt in those hours when she could not reach me. But today I feel it so strongly that I am not quite sure how I’ll make it through this day.
Having a child is, indeed, like watching your heart walk around outside your body. It is entrusting the world to care for those pieces of your heart, long before those pieces can care for themselves.
Eleven years ago, we all felt like the world didn’t care for our hearts.
But today, I will focus on the stories that remind us that the world, in fact, did care. I will fill my heart and my mind with those stories of hope and love and people coming together.
And that will get me through this day.