In the weeks and months that followed 9/11, we shared with our church family, our friends, and colleagues the news of Becky’s tragic passing. Our church family kept saying how “strong” we were during this trial. We didn’t feel strong at all; I give God all the glory for any strength others observed in us. He was truly our rock and our fortress through this dark time in our lives.
Most people can recall where they were and what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, when news that airplanes had hit the Twin Towers in New York City – aka the 9/11 Attacks.
I was at work in Akron, Ohio when someone put the TV on in the conference room. Being a native New Yorker, and knowing my father and stepmother both worked in Manhattan, I was immediately upset and worried. Not MY city! I tried to call them, left them concerned voicemails and tried to focus on my work, while we kept the news on and listened for the latest updates.
Little did I know, it wasn’t my parents that I needed to be worried about.…
My husband, Tim, showed up at my office, out of breath. “Becky works at the North Tower!” he said to me. What? I hadn’t even remembered where his oldest sister worked.
Tim’s other sister eventually got in touch with Becky’s employer. Not only did they have an office in the North Tower, but also one in another location in New York City. The company would be holding an immediate briefing for families of the employees who worked in the Towers. My father and mother-in-law traveled the eight hours from Sharon, PA to that meeting, and were told she died instantly when the first plane hit the North Tower. She had gone into work for an early conference call with their British office. As the plane hit, the British colleagues just heard a loud sound and then … nothing.
As horrifying as the way Becky died may seem, this news became a comfort for our family. Dying instantly, she didn’t suffer. For Tim and I, we also drew comfort from knowing Becky was a follower of Jesus (the only other sibling who was), and had been active in her local church in New Jersey. We would see her again someday!
In the weeks and months that followed 9/11, we shared with our church family, our friends, and colleagues the news of Becky’s tragic passing. Our church family kept saying how “strong” we were during this trial. We didn’t feel strong at all; I give God all the glory for any strength others observed in us. He was truly our rock and our fortress through this dark time in our lives. We clung to Jesus and each other minute by minute, day by day. There were a lot of hard moments – like when all of us drove to New Jersey to pack up Becky’s apartment and attend her Memorial Service. I thank God for so many of my friends and family who attended – some didn’t know Becky that well, but wanted to be there to support me in my grief. Others did, and shared their fond memories of her with us, which made our pain feel a little lighter.
Being part of the 9/11 Attacks “family” has brought new meaning to Cornerstone of Hope’s vision of “creating a world where no one grieves alone.” The whole world was grieving with us when Becky and the other victims of 9/11 were killed. And for a while afterwards, our country was more unified than ever before. People were heading back to church in record numbers. God had brought beauty from the ashes of 9/11!
It reminds me of Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
I look back at that time and, in a strange way, I sometimes miss it. I pray that the divisiveness so prevalent in our country today could be replaced with the unity and return to faith that we experienced in the aftermath of 9/11.
Eileen is the Marketing Coordinator at Cornerstone of Hope