Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nine Eleven

I hesitated writing anything about September 11th, because I thought, "What could I say, that hasn't been said." I changed my mind, because I worried if everyone thought that way, history would fade away.

I had slept in rather late the morning of September 11th. I had spent the night at my friend Brooke's house. She worked at a coffee shop and had left about 5:00am for work. I was in that midway point of consciousness and sleep, when I began dreaming of airport closures. I remember thinking it would take something pretty bad to shut down all the airports. I started waking up a little more and realized the workers painting Brooke's house (she rented a small room) were listening to a radio outside and the dj was reporting that all airports had been ordered to shut down.

Fully awake now, I sprung out of bed and ran to Brooke's tv to find out why. I couldn't get her temperamental tv to turn on and then I heard on the radio outside that the World Trade Centers had collapsed. I was more than freaking out and swearing at Brooke's tv, trying to find out what was going on. My little sister was attending NYU and her dorm was on the same block as the WTC. I had been to visit and I was picturing the collapse in my head as a gigantic building tipping over, not collapsing in. I was trying to figure out if they were tall enough to hit her building. Silly I know, but I hadn't seen the footage yet.

I still couldn't get the tv to work, so I called my mom. She answered, "Are you okay?" I said, "I don't know what's going on yet Mom. I can't get the tv to work. I know the WTCs fell down. Is Jess okay?" Never one to sugarcoat things, she said she was on the phone with Jessica, who had run to a different room in her building that faced the WTC to see what was going on, when the buildings started to collapse, she heard my sister scream and then the phone went dead. I told my mom, I was going to drive to New York (I was in SLC). She told me not to go. She said she didn't want to have two daughters there and she knew Jess would be taken care of. That's when I finally got the tv to turn on and immediately faced the image of the towers collapsing. This will always be one of the worst feelings in my life. Even having warning did not soften the blow.

I told my mom to call me as soon as she heard from Jessica. I never thought she was dead, but watching that huge plume of debris billowing through the streets and seeing people jumping out of the buildings, I was so worried about her. She seemed so young to me and she is a sensitive soul. I felt so protective of her. I thought, she is not a soldier. She should not be having to do this. I know it's pretty selfish, but until I had a bit of time to process, most of my thoughts were about her.

I called in to work and told them I couldn't come in until I heard from my sister. They understood. Thankfully, a little while later, I got a call from my sister. She had been in her pajamas when the buildings fell and not in her own room. They had to evacuate immediately. She had nothing with her, not even shoes, but in typical Jessica fashion was trying to make everyone feel better about it all. She said strangers handed her shoes. They were size 10 mens, but they helped while walking through all the debris. She said someone handed her a wet washcloth as well. She had gone to a friends dorm that was in a different part of the city and told me she was really, really okay. I didn't believe her and she joked that surviving a terrorist attack should qualify her for some cookies in the mail.

A week after the attack, school started back up. She had no books, no supplies, no clothes, no wallet, no id and a pair of size ten mens shoes. The dorm she was staying in was all of her guy friends and they let her borrow clothes. Did I mention she is only 5'2" and was swimming in everything.

I wasn't fully convinced she was okay until I was able to go out there in November. I needed to see her for myself. She was skinnier than I had ever seen her and said she had thrown up blood and black stuff for a little while after the attack... she assumed from the bad air. I wanted to go to Ground Zero, after all, it was so close to her dorm, but she really resisted going or wanting to talk about it at all. That's kind of her style. I was worried that she needed to share, because that's what I felt like doing, but decided to let it go. Now I think she probably didn't want to talk about it, because no matter what she said, I would never get what it was like to see and feel it in person.

We did go down to Ground Zero. Smoke was still billowing 2 months later and firefighters were working round the clock. I couldn't help but think of my prior visit to New York. I had wanted to go up the towers, but ran out of time and thought, "I'll do it next time." I had gotten down on the sidewalk and taken a picture straight up the side of one of the towers, but it was the last picture on the roll and it didn't turn out. I never thought I wouldn't get another chance at capturing it. It helped me a lot to go there and feel the Spirit at the site and see the heartbeat going strong in New York. I hope to go back and see the memorial one day.

That is my story, which is really her story. Whenever I think of September 11th, I will think of my favorite New Yorker and be so grateful for every day I have had with her since. My sister took part in the 2,998 project, where you write a tribute for one of the people that lost their lives that day. I included the link to her tribute below.

I also wanted to include a copy of the prayer President Hinckley said at the October 2001 General Conference for The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. It gave me comfort then and still does now. Thanks for letting me share and gratitude and love beyond measure to all those who sacrifice on my behalf.

O God, our Eternal Father, Thou great Judge of the Nations, Thou who art the governor of the universe, Thou who art our Father and our God, whose children we are, we look to Thee in faith in this dark and solemn time. Please, dear Father, bless us with faith. Bless us with love. Bless us with charity in our hearts. Bless us with a spirit of perseverance to root out the terrible evils that are in this world. Give protection and guidance to those who are engaged actively in carrying forth the things of battle. Bless them; preserve their lives; save them from harm and evil. Hear the prayers of their loved ones for their safety. We pray for the great democracies of the earth which Thou hast overseen in creating their governments, where peace and liberty and democratic processes obtain.

O Father, look with mercy upon this, our own nation, and its friends in this time of need. Spare us and help us to walk with faith ever in Thee and ever in Thy Beloved Son, on whose mercy we count and to whom we look as our Savior and our Lord. Bless the cause of peace and bring it quickly to us again, we humbly plead with Thee, asking that Thou wilt forgive our arrogance, pass by our sins, be kind and gracious to us, and cause our hearts to turn with love toward Thee. We humbly pray in the name of Him who loves us all, even the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and our Savior, amen.


The Bears said...

I don't know why sections are highlighted. Blogger is being wierd.

Scott and Stacia said...

Oh.. I totally thought you were just trying to highlight parts :) So fun to read you last few posts. I absolutely love that picture of you on your wedding day! The hay bales totally fit the wedding :) Can't believe that was 5 years ago!

How fun that you put River in Gymnastics. Jacen is taking a break for soccer season. He can't wait to get back into it.

So excited about Bear's movie. We are totally spreading the word about a great movie. We are unable to see it until this weekend...we are looking forward to it!!

Jessica Rudder said...

Lil - the good news is that I've plumped up since then. No need to worry about me wasting away these days. :)

Don't feel silly about worrying that one of them might have fallen on my dorm. When I was trapped in the room where I couldn't see the towers and mom said "It's leaning over. It's going to fall!" I freaked out trying to figure out if we were close enough to get hit. I even asked which direction it was leaning as if my directionally challenged self would have had any clue if that was toward me or away from me if mom had said "South."