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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.

Windows on the World (Photo: Ezra Stoller/Esto)

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

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. kimtique #

    Well put Laura! We are all left with individual perspectives. You did the right thing by your little kindergarteners that day. On that day, my own little kindergartener, Emi, was blessed with strong teachers around her. Thank you for being one of the many unsung heroes who kept their cool so fear would not overwhelm little children who could hardly begin to fathom this event.

    September 11, 2011
    • Thank you, Kim. Don’t know how much of a hero I was. Just doing what I needed to do. Take care.

      September 11, 2011
  2. What a wonderful post. It’s hard to imagine – impossible I guess – what the people went through on that day ten years ago,the suffering and the devastation that ensued and yet even though I am on the other side of the pond I felt a connection with America that has never left me. I’ve always enjoyed travelling to the States and I, like many others, around me were at a loss for days after that tragic day. The heartbreak caused by mindless acts of terrorism has helped to shape who we are and prove how resiliant we can be. We will never forget – and nor should we. x

    September 11, 2011
  3. Laura, that is a beautiful tribute to our towers. I will never forget how they defined our city, and our neighborhood. They were beacons of comfort and hope. They were the most well known buildings in the world. And they were ours. I watched the ceremony today thinking of the hundreds of thousands who passed through the doors and felt the majesty and miracle of what man can create.

    None of that will ever change. Thank you for your words, and sharing your experience. xoxo, marc blackwell

    September 11, 2011
    • Oh, Mark, I love what you said. Yes and yes. It will not change. I am there looking out those windows right now just as sure as it is today. Some things are forever. xoxo L.

      September 11, 2011
  4. Reblogged this on lauraoutoftheblue and commented:

    Tomorrow we remember the day that changed our lives forever. A repost from 9.11.11.

    September 10, 2014
  5. Sallie #

    September 10th, 2001 Ken and I were at church planters’ boot camp in Colorado Springs in anticipation of moving here to plant a church. The man running the boot camp opened the evening with a story about his 45 year old friend who was healthy and was out running two weeks before. He told us that his friend simply dropped dead as he was running. The leader then said to all of us: “We as church planters do what we do because not one of us knows what will happen tomorrow. . .” Those words still echo, may they always.

    September 11, 2014
    • Sallie, thank you for sharing that poignant story. Each day is a gift and each day brings unexpected joys and sorrows. May we remember and be changed for His glory.

      September 11, 2014
  6. Chipm #

    Enjoyed this Laura. Tnx

    September 11, 2016

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