Living in the Shadow
Now go back to your classroom and act like nothing has happened.
Those are the words my headmaster spoke to me after telling me that two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers and that no one really knew what was going on.
I remember thinking, I can’t do this. I can’t go back in there and pretend that the world has not changed forever.
I took a deep breath and walked dutifully into my classroom. I looked at my students sitting up front on the circle and lifted a quick prayer.
My own children, thank God, were there with me at school that day and I knew they were in capable hands.
The rest of the morning was a blur. I remember trying to pull up something, anything, on my computer. Finally I saw a photo of smoke billowing from Tower One. The image took my breath away.
The next thing I remember is taking my students out for recess. That day was not unlike today. The sky was cloudless and blue (we all remember that) and crisp and cool and tinged with a hint of autumn.
I looked up at the sky, anticipating something awful.
But we are in North Carolina. How could anything bad happen here?
Then: The world as we know it has just come to an end . . . who knows when and where “they” will strike again . . . no one is safe.
I carried on that day with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. Unlike thousands of others, I did not have a loved one who worked at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or who had boarded United Flight 93 that morning en route to San Francisco.
What I was thinking of that morning was 1976. I was twenty years old and living in New York. The World Trade Center had opened just three years earlier and it was the city’s crowning glory. I was an aspiring model who spent time in the company of fellow models, photographers, and successful businessmen who were also my close friends. Very often we would all end up in my friend Martin’s limo headed downtown to the Twin Towers and Windows on the World.
I remember the elevator whisking us up to the 107th Floor. The doors opened onto a world we called our own. Standing there taking in all of Manhattan in its glittering nighttime beauty made us believe we were invincible. We laughed, drank, ate, and sealed the bonds of our friendships there. It was magical. And it filled us with hope.
But on that clear September morning, that hope was shattered.
My daughters’ lives and the lives of the students in my classroom (and the rest of the world) were changed inextricably that day. We have all grown up in the shadow of those Mighty Towers. They are now a part of our collective history. They bind us. The Towers are gone, but the lessons learned from them live on.
Remembering the Twins. Forever in my heart.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ~Psalm 91:1