Sunday, September 11, 2011


10 years.

Can you believe that? That's a Molly plus a whole other one. It is difficult to go back to the memory of that day and then see the whereabouts of my life now. In some ways, too much has changed for it to only be 10 years. In others, those feelings still feel so close to the surface.

I was in my sophomore year at The University of Texas at Austin and I had overslept for my 9 o'clock class. My roommate was notorious for sleeping through her 8am alarm for piano class (truly on a daily basis) and consequently, I stopped setting my alarm. Her relentless beeping on the other side of the wall was enough to wake me without fail. This morning, was probably the third morning of the semester that she had made it to piano on time. Ironic, because once on campus, she would arrive to a cancelled class. But, we didn't know that yet.

I awoke in a panic.  Disoriented from time and yearning for breakfast. Food would have to wait. I raced across my apartment complex just in time to catch the Wickersham Bus to campus. It was 8:42. I remember feeling annoyed that it was standing room only. Seems missed alarm clocks were the themes of the morning for others as well. This of course meant that I was standing squished next to Mr. No Deodorant and Senorita Sneezy-face. It was my version of a morning gone wrong. 3 minutes later the radio broadcast was interrupted and through the crackly speakers of an overcrowded bus I heard some mention of a plane and a tower. That was all I could make out. No iPhone. No Facebook. Just an old stinky bus and the Daily Texan to entertain me on the way to class. I resumed project plug-your-nose and zone out.

Stepping foot off the bus in front of Jester was a much different site. Imagine stepping on an ant hill because to this day, that really seems like the only way to describe that moment. Lots of students, teachers all bustling about. Some crying, some sitting... but everyone was quiet. Awkward, anxiety inducing levels of quiet for that many people in one space. My stomach felt unsettled and I had no idea why. I started walking across campus towards class when I ran smack into my roommate. The largest university in the world and I turn the corner to collide right into my roommate at one of the busiest parts of campus. If that's not divine intervention, I don't know what is. We sat down right there on the side of the fountain and I asked her what was happening. You know you are loved by someone when you can ask a stupid question and feel nothing but kindness behind their eyes. The gravity of her words knocked the wind out of me. My ignorant, egocentric self felt blindsided by the magnitude of a hatred so great. Between feelings of sadness and fear I was met with this overwhelming desire to flee. Gather all of my people and just hold on to each other in some place safe. The problem with a moment like that though is that nowhere really felt safe.

The bus ride home was the opposite. It was standing room only and yet, we all sat down. Right there on the floor. I was trying to reach my brother, a freshman on campus, while a couple people around me were praying. I arrived at my empty apartment to a note from another roommate. She had gone home to her family. So I did the most natural and comforting thing I knew to do. I called my mom and cried.

In the days and weeks to come I would cry a bunch more. I remember a picture with Diane Sawyer with 17 babies that year born to broken families of 9/11. Let me tell you that I have thought about and prayed for each of those babies at distinct points through all my three pregnancies. The heartbreaking stories live in all of us. As a nation, we remember and grieve that loss.

Today was about the small things. The safe things. Breakfast with friends. Religious education classes for the kiddos and an afternoon spent at the splash park with my little family. A day chock-full of together time.

10 years ago a cloud of sorrow arose from the ashes of fallen rubble. Today, we stand together and we remember. In a balance of hating the enemy or loving each other a little bit more, I am thankful, that in all this time...

 I chose love.


sarah said...

beautifully written Julie. love u.

Joanna said...

Such a great post, Julie. And I just love your blog!!