(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed below are that of the author only. It is not my intention to force my beliefs or views onto anyone. If there is anything that offends you in this post, I am deeply sorry.)
Yesterday my kids wore red, white and blue in honor of Patriot Day. That is the official name for the day we remember and honor those innocent Americans (and international visitors) that died from the senseless terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001. For those old enough to remember that day, it is better known as 9/11. I would like to send my condolences to all of the people who lost loved ones on that day. I also sympathize for those people who are stilling living that traumatic day over and over in their head. That day, many people in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania witnessed first hand the horrifying scenes that they will never be able to get out of their heads. Truthfully, every American was changed that day.
I decided to look back to that day, twelve years ago, and remember what was happening in my life at that time. Frank and I had been married for 17 months. Frank had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes only 7 months earlier. And on top of that, I was 5 months pregnant with my first born. That’s quite a bit for anyone to take. So I was a very emotional 31-year-old pregnant newlywed with a husband that was going through a lot of medical issues.
Did I mention that I was working a full-time job and I was having a bad time with my shoulder and back. The pain was bad enough that I was having to take ibuprofen, even though I was pregnant. My doctor told me that the baby was pressing on some major nerves and once I delivered the baby all of the pain should go away. Although ibuprofen is not a typical medicine for a pregnant woman, I believe the doctor felt the dose was minimal enough that it would not harm the baby. Plus, I believe they wanted to try to keep me from getting too worked up during my second and third trimesters. Now lets add the mental stress I was under. At the time I was pregnant with Marie, the Catholic church was all over the news. It was during this time that victims had spoken up and accused some Catholic priests of molesting them when they were younger. The news spread like wildfires and before I knew it there wasn’t just a handful of victims or priest involved. It seemed like there were very few states that did not have a victim or priest involved with the scandal.
Okay, I can take the physical pain of the pregnancy. I can juggle my work schedule and handle the changes that my husband was encountering. But I was a pregnant Catholic woman looking for a safe day-care to watch my unborn child…in a big city that I had moved to three years earlier. Sound a little stressful? Oh wait, I’m not done yet. I was also struggling with the fact that someone I had grown up with all my childhood life (and thought I knew better than myself) was sent to jail for allegedly molesting a 7-year-old girl. Then four airplanes are hijacked by terrorist on 9/11 and kill thousands of innocent people. What kind of world was I about to bring my daughter into?
How did I make it through without losing my mind??? With the help of my faith in God, the support of my husband and the wise, confident words of my parents and my priest. I could have never made it to this point in my life without the support and love my parents gave me, especially through that time in my life. They too were Catholic, they too struggled with the same disbelief of learning about my friend who was in jail, for they also knew them intimately. My parents also stood in shock the moment the breaking news hit about the attack on America. The only thing they were not dealing with at the time was that they did not have a baby growing inside of them that was causing more discomfort than expected. But they did have this new grandchild about to arrive into this chaotic world. Not to mention three other married children in different parts of the US who had provided them with numerous grandchildren. So yes, my parents could truly say they were viewing the world with the same gray colored glasses that I was. (I would like to say my glasses were rose-colored, but all of the ashes from the Twin Towers pretty much turned my rose tinted glasses to gray.) 😦
So one would think that at this point in my life I would just give up and crumble to pieces. I’m sure that is what the devil was hoping for. I am sure that the devil was thinking he could bring America to her knees that day. But there were a few factors that the devil didn’t consider. First and foremost, God is all powerful and he will be there for his children, all we have to do is believe. That is what my parents gave me, the strength and faith that God was still with us and he still loved us. He didn’t desert us on Sep. 11, 2001, he was right there picking up the pieces and gathering us in his arms. He hurt as much as we did over the victims that lost their lives. He hurt even MORE than we did, because he knew that some of the lives that were taken that day did not know or believe in his son, Jesus Christ!
I am sure the devil was waiting for all of the Americans, especially the ones that were physically in the locations of the tragedy to run away, alone and scared. But that is not what happened, instead America united together. Instead of everyone fending for themselves, we pulled together to help one another. Although 9/11 was a tragedy, there was also a triumph that happened that day. There were heroes coming out of the woodwork, literally! People risked there lives for total strangers when they didn’t even know if their loved ones were okay or not. I am sure the devil also was thinking there would be a lot of crying and mourning and anger after the attacks. I am not saying that none of that was present that day or the days that followed, because we wouldn’t be humans if we didn’t have that sort of reaction at such a devastating time. However, there was this unspoken power of faith and unity that came over the US that had to have made the devil furious. There were people from different denominations praying together, working together, caring for one another. And for the most part God’s name was not used in vain, instead it was cried out in praise and thankfulness and in petitions for help.
So what should have destroyed our country actually made us stronger. Made Americans realize that we were not invincible, but was mere mortals that still needed the Good Lord upstairs. As for my own personal struggles, well, just like America, my struggles also made me stronger. Honestly, if I hadn’t been pregnant at the time, I might not have been as strong. But there is something about mothering a child that will bring out unbelievable strength and determination in a woman. I vividly remember one of my co-workers having a very hard time after 9/11. She was older than me and had a 3-year-old son. Her husband and her worked different shifts in the day so they did not have to put him in day-care. She would work the morning shift and her husband would work the night shift at a hospital. I remember her coming to work and talking to me about being afraid that more attacks would be coming soon. Because that uncertainty was there in everyone’s mind. She was almost to the point that she did not want to leave her house in fear that another terrorist attack would happen. I would always come back with reassurance that God would protect her.
I recall one day telling her that I, of all people, should be scared to death about what was going on in this world and the uncertainty of our future, since I was carrying my first unborn child. Then I told her that I had come to the conclusion that I could either roll over and play dead or I could care for and protect my child to the best of my ability and cherish each day I had with her and all of my loved ones. I honestly can’t remember what happened to my co-worker, but I am here to testify that I made it through. Could I have done it if my mom had already pasted away? Most likely not. Because she was the steady rock that I needed during the storm. She kept pointing me back to God when my doubts and fears would get the better of me. God knew I needed her to lean on at that time and I am so thankful she was.
My priest helped me with my struggles with both the church and my friend’s molestation charges. He helped me realize that there is a line between hating the person and hating the person’s sin. I still loved my friend, I just didn’t like what they had done. My priest had suggested I write a letter to my friend, telling them all that I was feeling and letting them know that although I hated what happened, I was still there for them. It is a strange thing to say, but I felt like I was guilty by association. I wasn’t even in the same state where my friend had committed the crime and yet I felt like I too was on trial. I also felt like I was the victim, because I trusted them and they proved that they were not trustworthy. Isn’t it strange how a person will take someone’s troubles and find themselves being hurt and effected by them, when they had nothing at all to do with it? That’s where I was when I spoke to my priest. I was walking around with an invisible scarlet letter on my shirt that truly didn’t need to be there, but I placed it there because I felt I had done something wrong by knowing them.
I love the quote “God works in mysterious ways.”, in fact, you will hear me saying it often. Well, in looking back to what happened 12 years ago, I now realize that God truly does work in mysterious ways. I believe there is a reason for everything. We may not always end up seeing what the reason was, but things don’t just happen…God is using every one of us each and every day. So I don’t find it ironic that my priest was able to help me with my friends sin. Because my priest had just witnessed the execution of his nephew months earlier. You see, his nephew had killed someone during a robbery. After being in prison for several years, I believe he might had been sentence to life in prison, our state governor declared executions to be legalized again and his nephew was one of the inmates that they picked that year. My priest had faithfully visited his nephew in jail, for he was the only living relative left, and on the day his nephew was executed, my priest was there to hear his last confession and give him his last rites. Knowing all of this made it easier to believe and understand what he was telling me to do with my friend. He wasn’t just giving me advice based off of something he learned in seminary school, he was basing it off of his own experiences. Isn’t God unbelievable sometimes?
In fact, God is awesome!!! He has led me to this point in my life, knowing that through this blog, I can see for myself that I am a pretty tough cookie. I won’t deny that I wasn’t already tough when I was younger. But through the experiences that I have had, I have learned more about perseverance and faith. Maybe this is why my Mom was such a wise woman. She had encountered things that only she knew about and instead of letting them bring her down she just took from it the knowledge that she learned and she used it to educate and strengthen her children in our endeavors. I pray that I will be able to do the same thing for my kids.
I would like to thank you for letting me share some things that I have only told a chosen few about. By looking back 12 years ago, I see now that I am a much stronger woman than I was back then. And the future doesn’t look as bleak as I thought it was. I pray that all those that read this will find some sort of key in my message to help them keep going and to trust in God. God bless you and all those that had died during the 9/11 attacks. And God Bless America!