It’s hard to believe almost seven years have passed.
It’s also difficult to admit that the most beautiful events in my life have been marred by some of the ugliest acts of humanity.
Last Friday, my youngest daughter celebrated her seventh birthday, and as the gleeful squeals of second graders filled my home, I thought about the worry I felt for my baby's future when she was just 13 days old.
The day started like any other – we dropped her sister off at school and made a quick trip to Wal-Mart to pick up more diapers, but when I turned on the radio during the drive home, the news reports brought an ominous black cloud over that gorgeous day.
It hasn’t lifted since.
By the time I turned on the television at home, debris from one tower clouded the streets of Manhattan and the speculation on the death toll reached close to around 40,000 – at worst. By the time I fed my newborn, changed her diaper and put her down for her morning nap, another tower had fallen and the Pentagon had been struck, as well. By the time she awoke from her nap, a plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field and the rest of the flights in the United States had been grounded.
My sister called me to make sure I knew about the tragedy unfolding. My mother called to tell me my aunt – who traveled to Washington D.C. with a group from her work – was OK. And my cousin called to cry with me as I asked: Why this? Why now?
My mind drifted back to 16 days after the birth of my 13-year-old daughter, when on my way home from a trip to the grocery store, I learned about the terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City.
Images of the firefighter carrying the lifeless body of 1-year-old Baylee Almon from the wreckage in Oklahoma City still resonated in my mind. Now, it coupled with the ghastly scenes of crashing planes, falling towers and panic, leaving a nauseating rock in the pit of my stomach.
I struggled with the decision of whether or not to pull my oldest from classes but eventually let her finish the day in the most normal fashion possible. By the time my husband returned from work at 6 p.m., the finger of blame had been pointed at terrorists from the Middle East and rumors of war created lines – 10 cars deep in some places – at area gas stations.
Into what kind of world had I brought these innocent children?
Never knowing a world without terror alerts, my baby can't gauge the difference between the world before Sept. 11, 2001 and the world afterward. But I think my oldest, my 13-year-old, understands my hypervigilance. I think she knows I live in fear of the day the other shoe will drop.
Together, she and I have watched the movie “Schindler’s List,” and discussed how easily power is abused, how quickly freedoms are taken away, how evil can destroy hope, and how the world can change in a single day.
I pray everyday they never suffer anymore from the effects of terrorism than I have, and I hope their future is as bright and happy as the gleeful squeals I heard at that party.