9/11 Led Us to The Park

WWP

If you were old enough, you remember where you were the day planes crashed into buildings and the world changed forever.

I was shaken awake by my husband at the news we were under attack. “We”: our small nuclear family of three, thousands of miles away from actual destruction, death, and chaos. Yes, “we” were under attack.

What we believed about the world was no longer true. How we trusted goodness and leaned into love was challenged to the absolute core. I’ve never felt more a part of that larger “we” than I did with the events of that horrible day.

Maybe I had no right. I had walked away from the TV images and taken our then one-year-old son to the empty and silent playground at a park in Castle Rock, Colorado. No one was there playing. No one was laughing, or swinging, or chasing, or sliding. No planes flew overhead and yet in that silent stillness I felt this guttural connection to the contrast of noise: the sirens, the roar of collapsing buildings, and the screams of terrified people.

What I discovered at that playground is that we stop living when we’re under attack.

The trajectory of life changed for a lot of people on that day, and our family was no exception.

Later that fall, on a road trip back from Minnesota I asked my husband whether he felt like our lives were purposeful. Lots of people asked that question in the wake of 9/11 and those who spent time truth-seeking found unique and various answers. Some felt called to rush to the scene as helpers. Others felt the need to take up arms and physically defend against other possible attacks. Some moved home. Some set off to see the world. Some got married. Some made babies. Some made art. And some, feeling utterly useless otherwise, set out to the park.

No matter what our next steps were, we all had to step into a brand new world.

The attack changed us. For those who honestly sought guidance to return to truth and purpose, I have watched in so many beautiful ways how the gaping hole of 9/11 has planted gorgeous outgrowth in response.

It certainly happened for me and my husband. It has been a slow-growing and unexpected revelation but we did keep earnestly seeking in pursuit of the one thing that felt like our battle against attack. After eighteen years, we have landed at The Park.

I will spend time in upcoming blogposts writing about how this story has unfolded for us,  but here is a glimpse of the destination we didn’t even know we were pursuing. It is a testament to the power of faith and proof that goodness and love remain. No attack can diminish them.

WOODWIND PARK VIDEO

 

Meagan Frank Copyright 2019

 

Vow of a Survivor

SURVIVORA person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

I am not a widow.

I’m not a grieving child, co-worker, friend, parent or sibling.

I didn’t run from the smoky plume and in fact I was thousands of miles from the east coast on that day.

Instead… I walked somberly to the park with our one-year-old and sat helpless in the vacant, quiet sunshine.

I couldn’t share the television horror anymore.

On my solitary bench, I tried, desperately, to reconcile the babbling of my clueless  toddler with the silence of the eerily empty skies.

His world would never be the world of my childhood.

My general defense for overwhelming emotion was to be spurred to action, and with the sadness and grief that flooded my heart, there should have been some dramatic action.

I didn’t do anything that day.

I didn’t know what to do.   I have never felt so helpless in my entire life.

As the days went by, I prayed, I cried, I donated and I took thank you cookies to our local firefighters, but it felt intensely insignificant.

And still… ten years later, I feel small and incapable.

I can do little more than cry buckets while watching the memorials, tear up with the mention of a name, cry more at the recollection of the heroic and horribly tragic stories. I can do that…I can remember… and I can write.

I don’t deserve to be this sad. I don’t deserve these tears…this heartbreak.

The tears come anyway. I just can’t help it.  Maybe that’s all I’m meant to do. I cry because I remember. I write because it’s the only thing I can do.

There are millions and millions of survivors from that day. Those of us who experienced the fear from the comfort of our living rooms or the desks in our offices.

What do we do with that?

We remember…

We memorialize, we pray, we cry, we teach, we cry, we write, we sing, we put together photo montages and with every passing day…we survive.

I cannot change my role for that event, and so now I need to continue to live on, to move forward, to function despite hardship and opposition.

I’m a survivor and I vow to Never Forget.