September 21, 2001
Dear Cole and Gianina,
It is a different world today.
A week and a half ago, on September 11, 2001, four commercial planes were hijacked. Two slammed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City causing them to both implode within 30 minutes of being hit. One plane slammed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. And one plane crashed in a rural area of Pennsylvania. The world was different from that moment on.
I had been out for a morning walk around the golf course across the street from our house here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, taking in the sunshine and thinking what a beautiful day it was. As I entered the house, your father was watching the news. He quickly called me to come in and see what he was watching. I remember how serious his voice sounded. And then his voice cracked as he told me, "A plane just crashed into the Pentagon."
I watched the pictures on the TV for a moment. My sister, Dee, works in the Pentagon. Everything seemed so surreal....like I was just watching a movie. A thought crossed my mind that Dee was okay, wherever she was. That this did not effect her. Then it all came screaming home to me that indeed she may have been hurt or killed. I called Grandma and Grandpa Parlato in Oneida, New York. They had not heard from her yet and were watching the events on television. Then I tried to call my sister, Lisa, but she was not at home. As I hung up the phone, it rang. It was Dee.
"Where are you?" I screamed into the phone. "Where are you?"
She was in Texas. She is the personal photographer for the Secretary of the Navy and she travels with him wherever he goes. They were on travel this week. She was safe.
But so many people are gone. The twin towers of the World Trade Center lie in heaps on the ground. Rescue workers, police and firemen who responded immediately to the attack were buried when the buildings collapsed. Many people were able to evacuate the buildings, but many were not and died in the attack and collapse. Immediately, airports all around the nation were closed and all planes grounded. Government buildings and labs were evacuated and people told to go home. Our nation ground to a halt. Everyone is immobile and in a state of shock. Suddenly, "home" does not feel so safe. Everyone feels like a target. And we are. Osama bin Laden, a very rich Saudi man who now lives in Afghanistan, has been identified as the main organizer of the terrorist attacks. He has made it clear that his wish is for all Americans to die.
Our government has gone into overdrive. It has declared "war" against terrorism and has focused on what it needs to do to protect our country. Our president, George W. Bush, has suddenly been catapulted into a global spotlight. Our military has been deployed to Asia and the Middle East, and may soon attack military targets in Afghanistan in an effort to close down terrorist camps and oust Bin Laden. Nations have come together to rally an organized effort to fight. Locally, we see signs of increased security all around. Soldiers wear green khakis and carry weapons at our airports and bases. Even the armory just down the street is now cordoned off with razor wire, cement barriers and soldiers on 24-hour guard. And our nation has been brought to its knees in prayer. All over the TV, media, radios, billboards, etc, the call has gone out to pray. Signs are everywhere, invoking the name of God in a very open and public outcry. People, in the sudden realization of their vulnerability, mortality and grief, are understanding their need for God. And they are seeking Him. Prayer vigils and religious services are being held all over the country, in houses of worship and in public stadiums and plazas. Churches are filled to over-flowing. Our president called for a national day of prayer on the Friday after the attacks. Two minutes of silence were observed by people in nations all over the world, to exercise a moment of reverence toward the impact of the attacks and the people effected. The news showed footage of major cities in numerous countries where traffic, movement, and activity came to a complete stop, as nations observed the moment. We all, as a global whole, are effected. May God hear us.
And you, my precious children, play at my feet, unaware of any changes in your small lives. You still play, and eat, and sleep, and cry, and laugh. I watch you with very, very different eyes. Suddenly, you seem so exposed. You seem so small and fragile, and I in a mother's fierce desire to protect you, cannot. All I want to do is hug you and kiss you and keep you close to me. Since the moments you were born, I have prayed for your protection, and for God to keep my eyes vigilant over you. I will continue to pray for this, and for God to use me to maintain your safety as much as is humanly possible. You have only been loaned to us, your Papa and me, for a short period of time. Ultimately, you belong to God, and I must remember that. You are His. And for that, I am thankful. He loves you even more than I could imagine myself loving you. He's concerned for your safety, and has ultimate ability to keep you within His loving gaze. What I can only wish to do for you, He is able to accomplish. And I am learning, through all this upheaval in our world, to release you into His trusted hands. I know that this insures nothing while we live on this earth. That as I sit at this computer and write this, we are still in danger of more terrorist attacks that may effect us personally and could very well kill us. It is frightening, knowing so much is out of our control. But ultimately, you are in His hands, and He is still on His throne. And He is still in control, no matter what we see, no matter what we hear, no matter what anyone says. Nothing escapes Him. I must remember to "walk by faith, and not by sight".
I don't know at this moment, if you will ever be old enough to read this letter on your own and understand it. But I write it in hope for the future. I hope one day you can read it, and take in this eye witness account of a period of your own lives. Grow, in love and submission to the Lord our Father, knowing how fragile and fleeting your lives are. Seek Him. Find Him. Trust Him. Follow Him. He will lead you. Live in the present, with your eyes on the future. Not just an earthly future, but an eternal future in His heavenly kingdom, in His heavenly presence.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
"Be still, and know that I am God."
May God help me to remember this; to trust Him with you, and with Papa, and with me. That no matter what happens, He is still my Lord and Savior and loving Father. And you, are His.
Your loving Mama,