I still remember.
I was driving to school that beautiful day.
It was only my second year of teaching precious second graders.
The sky was an amazing, crystal clear blue with white puffs scattered about.
I was on Higgins Road speeding through the forest preserve listening to a local Chicago morning show that was usually full of laughter.
A serious tone in the voice of the announcer had me captivated. I turned up the radio.
"A plane ... New York City ... not sure ... small plane ... lost ... waiting for more details."
I wondered why a small engine plane would be near the big city buildings. I was only minutes from my school and turned off the radio without much thought or worry. I said a little prayer that all would be okay.
After lugging my school bags into my classroom, an announcement came over the loud speaker.
"Please come down to the library for a quick meeting." I don't remember making any connections yet.
More details were shared about the events that happened that morning. My hand covered my mouth in complete disbelief. Many speculations, many worries. I never imagined a second plane ... and then more.
We were instructed to go on with the school day as usual with a few restrictions: no TV and no outside recess.
I don't remember the details of the day with students because that's what we do for our students: it was a regular school day. I'm sure a few came in with some knowledge of what had happened. Our goal was to minimize speculations and opinions and worries.
"Talk with your families tonight at home. We are safe here. Know that we are safe." I had to keep saying those words to reassure myself. It was also my little prayer to God as well.
We made it through the day. I was emotionally exhausted wondering ... What else? What more? Why? When will it stop? Why? Why? Why? September 12th came and went.
I was drawn to the television for weeks. Watching the footage over and over again. Then hearing story after story of survivors, of heroes, of the amazing goodness that arose from tragedy. There was still so much goodness, unity, and pride even though all of America was emotionally drained.
But what has happened? How can we so quickly forget that we are one -- only fifteen years later? How can we forget that all lives matter? I was hundreds of miles away from Ground Zero, but the ripples left my heart broken and yet come September 12th, renewed with hope.
Sharing my September 11th story was triggered after reading the middle grade novel "nine, ten: A September 11 Story" by Nora Raleigh Baskin. A beautifully written story from the perspective of four children and how their lives intersected and were affected by 9/11.
Today I also read a picture book that perfectly matched the hope of people and the power of our story. My friend, Karen, talked about this book all last year, wanting desperately to get her hands on it. She asked me to keep an eye out for it because it was out of print and Amazon wanted some ridiculous amount of money. Last week, as the girls and I perused the used book sale at my local library, I found it: Skin Again by Bell Hooks and illustrated by Chris Raschka. I couldn't believe my eyes! For 25 cents I will gift this beautiful book to her. I finally read it this afternoon and the first line says it all:
is just a
tell my story.
And then it goes on ...
If you want to know who I am
you have got to come inside ...
and open your heart way wide.
We need to hear this story today and every day. We need this reminder that our skin is only a covering and we have to open our hearts to know and love each other. A heavy reminder that we need in America as we embark on the 15th anniversary of that day, 9/11.