This is my memory of September 11, 2001.
It was a Tuesday morning, a new year of BSF, Bible Study Fellowship for me, my first in leadership. We had a leaders’ meeting starting about 9:00. I waited at the bus stop with my four children, hugged them bye, then left for Mars Alliance Church in Cranberry.
For two hours, we prayed, trained, and planned for class day with all the members.
After the meeting, I hopped in my van, headed for an optometrist’s appointment an hour away. I called the librarian at our public library to check on a favor she was doing for me, left a message on my husband’s phone. He was playing golf at Laurel Valley Golf Club, one of his favorite courses. I said something like, “Hope you’re having fun. It’s a great day for golf.”
It was. The sun was out. The air held just a little crispness—a beautiful September day in western Pennsylvania.
Twenty or so minutes into my trip, I unwrapped my sandwich and turned on the radio. Words instead of music from the public radio station filled the van. I didn’t pay attention because my mind was still on the morning meeting, my eye appointment, my daughters’ dentist appointment scheduled in the afternoon.
I finally realized the talking was going on longer than an opening for a song. I started listening. The announcers kept talking about the World Trade Center in New York. I understand that something had happened. I thought about the bomb that had exploded a few years earlier. I wondered if today was the anniversary, but no. I remembered. The bomb had exploded in December because we’d been visiting North Carolina at the time.
I started punching radio buttons. All the stations carried the same information. Something had happened. Something big, but I couldn’t figure it out.
I called Nancy, my next door neighbor. “Nancy, what is going on?”
“Oh, Hope. You don’t know?” Nancy explained what had happened, but she didn’t explain what it meant. Neither of us understood the why.
I continued to my appointment, came back and picked up my children, and tried to explain why so many of their friends had left school, why the boys were coming along to the girls’ dentist appointment.
I guess we kept the appointments to hang on to what we did understand, to hold onto something that wasn’t scary.
My husband didn’t finish his golf game. The plane that crashed near Shanksville flew over Laurel Valley. The people in his foursome commented on how low the plane was. Not too long after the sighting, sirens shattered the Pennsylvania countryside, and the teams were called in from the greens.
That night we huddled in our family room and talked about our experiences and tried to answer questions and just gave lots of hugs.
Fifteen years later, we still talk about that day. We still have questions, and we’re still wondering why.