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alec vanderboom

Today is 9/11.

It's an odd day for me. My family was born out of that tragedy.

Eleven years ago, I was a new bride. My husband had just left my house in Ohio to go back to grad school in Rochester, New York. I went to work as normal on Tuesday. It was "in-take" day, so I had a long line of the poor waiting to tell me their troubles, waiting for me to take their case. I heard about the plane crashes in between appointments. We were too "low budget" to have a TV. The paralegal kept updating me on what she heard from the radio. Each update was more scary than that last one.

I remember going back into my office alone and having a panic attack when I heard that a plane had gone down in Pennsylvania. I thought the hijackers were attacking Pittsburgh. "If they were going for Pittsburgh," I thought, "they could be going anywhere. They could be going to Rochester. They could be going to Boston." I had family and friends everywhere. I suddenly felt so vulnerable.

I left work to go home for lunch. I watched TV alone. The images were overwhelming. I called work and told them I couldn't come back in that afternoon.

At some point, I went to church. I was a brand new member of RCIA, I'd only gone to 2 or 3 meetings. The Church of the Holy Redeemer  in Portsmouth, Ohio had their door unlocked. I walked in alone and tried to pray. I didn't know anything about the Blessed Sacrament, so I didn't know He was with me. I addressed my thoughts to "some God out there"--far above me. I remember laying down in a pew. I felt so weak and so depressed. Around me the church was beautiful. (Remember what a perfect sunny day it was back in 2001?) The sunlight was streaming in through the stain glass windows. The feeling in the church was of such perfect beauty and quiet and stillness.

The contrast actually hurt me. The church environment was such a contrast to the turmoil and fear I felt inside.

I left after a few moments.

I felt so sad that I didn't have anywhere to go.

I basically spent the rest of the day back home in my tiny rental house, watching the news. Remember the endless cycle when they didn't know anything? Then one morning, I don't remember how many hours after the 9/11 attack, there was an interview with Jeremy Glick's widow. She had a three month old baby. She talked about having the last conversation with her husband on the phone.

It hit me--this new thought that hit my body all at once--that the real tragedy would be if Jon died before we had a child together. I was supposed to have a child with this man I loved.

It's hard to even remember how mired my vocation was in sin, but I was totally blocked about having children. I was really, truly afraid that I'd be a horrible mother. I was a new bride and I loved marriage. But kids were this scary "not until I'm older than 30" part of the equation. Yet Jesus, gave that fruit of marriage back to me--and he gave it back to me as a result of the suffering of this widow.

On this 11 year anniversary, I am a wife and mother of six children. I have five sleeping in my house and one in heaven. This morning, I hugged my husband tightly. I said Morning Prayer with him. I washed a bowl for his oatmeal and reminded him about a Cub Scout Meeting.

I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I believe because I rose from the dead, too.