Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 -- 10 years later

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I just returned home from my job at an IT call center in Houston, TX, and learned the World Trade Center Towers had been attacked. I left my living room and came back just in time to see Tower 2, the place where I worked before leaving New York City to move back to Houston in May 2001, get hit live on TV.  Obviously the nation as a whole has changed since then in so many ways.  Every year since then, on this date, I am reminded of the enormity of what happened. The rest of the day is mostly a blur.  However, I do remembering staying glued to the TV and taking phone calls from family and friends who heard/saw it as well and knew that I worked in the WTC before leaving New York.  My father, who suffered 3 heart attacks from late 2000 to March 2001, said to me that he would have had another heart attack if I was still in New York working that day. The gravity of his words are with me even to this day, but to fully understand it, I must give a brief background of my 9-11 story. 

I moved to New York in May 1998 to start a new life while I was in my mid-twenties.  Three years later, I was living on my own, had made new friends, was active in a local church and truthfully wanted no part of returning to Houston, but God had other plans.  After my Dad's third heart attack, I received a warning from two separate pastors that I should leave New York and return home.  I was really conflicted about what to do, because one of the last things I wanted to do was give up my job and my apartment to go back to Texas to live in Houston again.  I also felt like I should have heard from God for myself about such an important decision.  However, the only thing I would hear from Him when in prayer about it was two words: “Trust me”.  One of the ministers also said something in a conversation I had with her about grappling with the warning she gave me that really grabbed my attention: “What if something happens and you can’t leave New York and will be full of regret.” Truthfully, that got to me, and I didn’t want to take the chance on not heeding their warnings. My last week of work, I look pictures of the view from the floor that I worked on, which was the 97th floor, and a picture of the towers from the ground floor, not knowing that would be the last time I saw them in person.


So, I quit my job, gave up the apartment, packed up all my things in my apartment, and hired a moving company to drive them to Houston. With the help of one of my cousins, I also drove my car from New Jersey back to Houston, Texas the first week of May 2001, almost three years to the day of when I left Houston to go to New York.
I wish I could say that I was elated about being back home, but I was far from it.  Fortunately I found a job in a month, but it was working the graveyard shift at night 4 days a week.  I struggled with depression, questioning why I had to come back to Houston, even while reuniting with my family and long-time friends. Fast-forward to 9/11/2001 and I was still struggling with being back home and depressed.  I called a friend while driving home, and just before I reached home, said to him “ I feel restless”.  A few minutes later, the USA as we all knew it, was forever changed.

Less than a year later, I met with an acquaintance at a youth conference in 2002, and when I shared my 9-11 testimony with her, she said something that I haven't thought of very often, but it stayed with me nonetheless.  She wondered out loud what caused God to get me out of New York 4 months ahead of time?  I realize that I had made the decision to stay and not return home, stayed on my job at the WTC that God may have still spared my life.  But what if I hadn’t? I would have missed out on so many things.  Some of them that stand out to me:

-- Getting to see my parents become grandparents for the first time, and then welcome a second, third fourth and a little over a month ago, a fifth grandchild

-- Seeing my brother Maurice get married four years later and celebrating his new life with him and his wife

-- I would have missed meeting my brother Perry

-- Going to Jamaica for the 2nd and 3rd time and witness my youngest brother seeing it for the first time since leaving we left as a family back in 1980

-- Getting to spend time with my young nephews and watching them grow up

--Witnessing a man of color elected as President of the United States of America and watch as the world rejoiced on Election Day in 2008

-- Getting to be a part of immediate and extended family celebrations

I mentioned wondering why God sent me that warning way ahead of time on Facebook two years ago, but hadn’t really stopped to ponder that question until this weekend . . . my friend's words echoed in my ears yesterday.  The truth is, I really don’t know.  I know people who worked on the same floor (the 97th floor) that I worked on that perished that day.  I’m earnestly asking that question of the Lord this year.   I believe that as I continue learning to trust Him beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it will be revealed in the fullness of His timing.

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