When September 11th happened, I had just returned from taking my kids to school. I turned on the television and started to clear left over french toast from the table. Just as I scraped the dish over the trash, I looked up to see the second plane hit. I dropped to my knees in the kitchen and the fork flew.
That was the darkest week I can remember. Within two days, the PTA got together and we decided to request that parents make emergency kits for each child at school. The kits consisted of small plastic box with snacks, comforting items, necessary medication, and whatever else may comfort a child in the case of emergency.
I cried all night as I wrote long letters to my young children telling them all the million reasons I am proud of them, sharing my favorite memories of our lives, and reassuring them of how very loved they are, both in the eyes of their parents and in the eyes of God. I chose happy family photos to enclose in the box, wiping the tears off of each one as I placed them carefully. I packed their favorite snacks, their rosaries, prayer cards, a stuffed animal and a sweater for each of them.
All I could do is imagine how dark life would be if the very worst were to happen close to home. My heart would be broken, my life never the same. My life would simply cease to exist. Life without my children or leaving them behind is unfathomable to me.
It has now been 16 years and I have called in sick to work every Sept. 11. Anxiety consumes me and I relive the crushing thoughts I had filling their boxes. I look back at the horror I experienced that day standing in my own kitchen imagining this could be last thing my children have to eat, hug or hope for. It left me feeling scared, shaken and sickened. It hurt, but made me develop a deeper love for them.
Every year that passes, the anxiety fades just a little more and yet... I can only imagine the tragedy for those around the world in which war is a daily way of life. It could be refugees running from war and persecution in a distant country or it could be our neighbors running from poverty and drug violence in our own backyard. I can’t help but think of the sad mothers who love their children as much as I love mine and have to face the evil of uncertainty every single day.
Having that moment of deep sorrow taught me an unforgettable lesson. It softened my heart in a way that I can never forget. I would do anything to save my children from tragedy, death, war, drugs, poverty and hopelessness. It is our God-given nature as women to protect the precious lives we created and carried from within. I would climb mountains, swim oceans and even skip borders if it meant my child could have a chance at a life they deserve.
The immigrant parents that bring their children to America aren’t drug lords and rapists. They are people just like you and me that experience horrors in this world and do whatever it takes to spare their own children of suffering. War will never end war, building walls will not end tragedy, and deportation will not end dreams.
You can send the Dreamers to a country they don’t know, pry apart American families, and disrupt the fiber of peace that makes our country worth it, but you will never mute a mother’s cries or dim the light of great hope that warms every person who steps foot on American soil.
Human beings will always be welcome in my house. I don’t care where you are from, who you worship or what you look like. My door is unlocked and my arms open wide. America’s should be as well.
Maggie Lornie, Bountiful, is a speechwriter, business consultant and mother of three.