We were living in St. Louis so I could attend Covenant Seminary. I remember walking out of the classroom in the library and Mark Winton telling us. Kirk Adkisson might have been with me. Mark didn’t get all the information right but he was mostly right. The fact he was an Army Ranger made it feel more serious in all our present ignorance. He could snap us like a twig. And he looked scared.
Classes were suspended. Or maybe I just left. I just wanted to be with Bethany. I called her. Bethany was being sent home. We only had one car so I went to pick her up, listening to KMOX all the way. It was time for Rush Limbaugh but I do not remember him being on. We got home and immediately turned on CBS News because we did not have cable. For better or worse, Dan Rather is a huge part of that day’s images.
We cried long and slow tears that day as we silently watched the footage of planes colliding with steel and glass, flesh and bone. Newscasters were not able to contain their emotion. That may be the thing that told me this was different. Different from anything I had seen before.
I think I smiled once while watching the footage and Bethany asked why. It had nothing to do with happiness. It was the smile of a boy seeing something new and different and a thing of awe and horror. I can no more explain it than I could explain physics.
We sat there for hours before we decided we needed to get out. Late in the afternoon we put our bikes on the bike rack and drove west of the city and rode the Katy Trail for miles. It was beautiful and possibly the best thing we could have done. The silence and solitude, replete with late summer and early fall’s collision calmed us.
The phrase, “This changes everything” was constantly with me.