A phone call from a friend woke us on that unforgettable Tuesday morning in 2001. We scurried from bed, huddled in front of the TV, and watched with the rest of the world while our innocence crumbled to the ground. I still recall my disbelief when the first tower dissolved into rubble. I turned to Dave. "But ... there are people in there," as if my logic could somehow reverse the moment, and silence the thunder, and undo the pain.
But my logic couldn't quell the horror. September 11th played out before us in stark shades of gray, one camera angle melding into another--an unrelenting parade of confusion and terror and grief.
I left my family sitting together on the couch. At the sink, I washed my hands and pulled out a frying pan, with no plan except that I was about to cook something. Tacos, I thought. Dave loves tacos. If I made them for a month straight, he'd probably still light up at the suggestion on day 32.
I crumbled, fried, chopped, sliced, stirred, scooped and slathered. Then I arranged those tacos on three plates, brought them to the living room, and watched for the briefest of moments--with my back to the TV--while my loved ones began eating. But it wasn't enough for me.
I went back in the kitchen, stood again staring out the window above the sink, and thought, Cookies. Forty minutes later, I brought a plate of hot-from-the-oven, oozy, gooey, chocolate chip cookies, and glasses of frothy milk.
Then I swept the kitchen floor, and then I mopped. I washed and folded a load of laundry. I scrubbed the sink.
And then, when I couldn't think of another thing to do, I sat down and cried.
I'm nesting again this week.
It's what I do when I grieve. Now, mind you, I don't know Greg and Cathe Laurie. They don't know me, although I've met them both. Six weeks ago, I stood in a parking lot at the Calvary Chapel Conference Center in Murrieta, California talking to Greg about when might be the best time to interview him for my book. He gave me a copy of his just-released book, asked me to read it first, and said we'd set up something soon. The following week, I visited Harvest and was completely blessed by Greg's message.
Cathe Laurie has taught sessions at our Pastors' Wives Conference over the years. I'm always struck with her poise and the particular way she phrases her words. She's beautiful and gracious, and someone I suspect is a friend you like having.
I haven't been able to shake their loss this week. I have awakened in the night already praying for them ... especially for Cathe. I find myself asking God the same thing over and over: "Please, God, speak something specific to her--something audible. Give her an anchor."
I think about her boy, and I watch my own. I ignore his messes and try not to think of the alternative--of a floor robbed of his strewn belongings; of a sink not full of his unrinsed dishes.
And I cook. This week I've ground wheat for dinner rolls and for big round rustic loaves. I made a giant pot of split pea soup. Yesterday morning I awoke with a long, unignorable list of must-do tasks, and ignored them all. Instead, I mixed up a batch of pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, so they'd be ready when everyone woke. And when I first heard those stirrings, I started frying bacon, because there's no smell in the world more welcoming than bacon.
Tonight it's roasted chicken, rubbed under the skin and inside out with my favorite concoction of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, and rosemary I cut from my garden. And there might be a pie on the counter before too long, just to even things up.
I sometimes catch my own shadow and see my scurrying for what it is--an attempt to chase my own sadness with the filling of stomachs. It's as if I believe that if I keep them full and satisfied, I can keep them safe.
Unreasonable, maybe. But it's all I have.
Nils-Udo "The Nest", Earth, stones, birch branches, grass, Lüneburg Heath, Germany, 1978, from GreenMuseum.org