Even after thirty years in a dysfunctional relationship, I missed being married.
I was sad, lonely, and lost.
My kids were all grown and gone, and even the family dog had died.
I was in the middle of teaching a poetry lesson to a group of high school juniors when the teacher next door came running into my classroom, yelling for me to turn on my TV. A plane had just crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City.
Our country was being attacked by terrorists.
For the rest of the school day the whole school, the whole nation, watched as all hell broke loose on our safe, complacent world. It was Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Purgatory all rolled into one.
I don’t remember getting home, but I do remember assuring my three kids (all in their early twenties back then) that if worse came to worst, we would all gather at my house, we would all live under one roof, and we would all look out for and protect each other.
I remember checking on the two useless “rifles” we kept in the back closet and registering the kind of ammo I needed to go out and buy.
I called my estranged husband (our divorce would not become final for another three months) and asked him to come home and help me comfort and protect our kids, but he told me I was more than capable of taking care of them and myself. He was where he needed to be.
If it’s true that we acquire wisdom with age, I learned that day that when the moment of greatest need presents itself in your life, you will learn the true heft of your character and of those around you. You will clearly see what is important and what isn’t, who you love and to what extent you will go to protect them, and how determined and unselfish you truly are.
On September 11th, I sing the praises of the heroes who died that day. They showed us how heroes live and how heroes die.