It is hard to believe it has been 16 years since that horrific day...I can still remember it like it was yesterday! I still get a knot in my stomach, an ache in my heart and tears in my eyes. My voice still cracks when I try to talk about what happened or where I was. When I think back to that day, I realize that God had me in that place for a reason. Let me explain...
I was born in Minnesota, I grew up there and in Washington State. After college I moved to Arizona, got married and had a baby and quit teaching to stay home with her. Then in January of 2001 my husband got laid off of work and I had to go back to work. I had recently earned a Master's Degree in Educational Counseling and wanted to pursue that avenue rather than go back to teaching. This meant we had to move. I was offered a position as a Guidance Counselor for 5-8th grade in a small town in New Jersey.
In late August, my 18 month-old daughter and I moved to NJ with the help of my sister (my husband stayed in AZ to try and sell our house).
September 10, 2001 ~ Unicorn and I took my sister to the airport in NYC. We looked up at the World Trade Center and other landmarks and talked about taking a trip to NYC soon to view the sights. That afternoon my sister flew back to Seattle.
September 11, 2001 ~ I dropped Unicorn off for her FIRST DAY of daycare and went to work. At 8:30 am I went to met with the principal in his office. The next thing I know a parent comes in screaming that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. (A little background here: The city I worked in was a commuter city for NYC. Of the 500 students in the school at least half of them had a family member that worked at the WTC. Also, the city is only about 45 min. from NYC).
As the events of the day unfolded it became clear that it was not an accident and that the US was under attack. I wanted nothing more than to grab my stuff and get my daughter and go home and cuddle with her. As a school counselor, that was not an option. The school went into lock-down mode. I was allowed 5 minutes to call my family and let them know that I was ok. The ONLY member if my family I could reach was my dad in Idaho. He was then tasked with getting in touch with my husband (in AZ), my mom (in Canada at the time) and my siblings (both in Seattle, WA). He was also able to confirm that my sister had arrived in Seattle safely the night before.
From about 9:30 am until 5:45 pm, I made phone calls and went to each classroom to explain what had happened. We had to call the families of every student who had family members that worked in NYC (approx. 250) and then to talk to each student and let them know that their moms, dads, aunts, uncles, etc. were ALL ok! It was a miracle. Not one of our students had a family member die that day. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky with the staff. One staff member lost a family member in the WTC that day.
At 6 pm I was finally able to go pick up my daughter from daycare and take her home and cuddle with her.
I know that I was there that day to help the staff and students through that day. My ability to stay calm during a crisis and to think clearly was definitely useful that day. I grew and changed that day. I would not be who I am if I had not been so close to that tragedy. I also wouldn't have been as needed had I live elsewhere. September 10, 2001 was the first and last time I ever saw the WTC towers. My little family moved back to AZ after that school year. It is the only time in my life that I have ever lived out east.
I will NEVER forget where I was that day? Will you?