12 years ago today I almost lost my older sister. She was working as TV personality and had planned to take American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to LAX. For many years I took credit for her not boarding that plane.
My sister had been doing a lot of traveling by air for her work. The joke in our family was that we never knew what state or even country she was in. ha ha ha. She was traveling the world as a good example of what a Mormon should be. It was late at night and I could not sleep. I just kept worrying about her. I couldn’t stop. Planes are so dangerous and she flys all the time. What if something bad happens? What if the wing falls off or the engine blew. What if her plane crashes or is bombed? I tried to forget it and go back to sleep. I tried but the paranoia got much worse. I was crying. Heaving one gigantic breath after another. Around 3:00am I ran into the bathroom crying. Begging God not to take her life. Silently screaming at him making promises I’m sure I have broken by now. It was almost as if I knew something was going to happen. After at least 30 minutes of pleading with God for her safety I felt a release. I looked in the mirror with day old mascara running down my face. I laughed at myself and how foolish I had been.
About two weeks later the planes hit. I knew my sister was in danger but I calmed myself. I knew she was in Boston but I knew that she would not be on that plane. I just knew it. I was right. She was not…but she was supposed to be.
When word spread about her brush with the 9/11 high jacking people immediately accused her of a publicity stunt. As if she was using this tragedy to forward her career. That was not true. Opera and other talk shows invited her to speak about her close call but she turned them down. This was not something to brag about. She became a shut in. The truth was she had gotten in a fight with her boyfriend in LA and at the last minute decided not to go. Her friend from the band she was traveling with convinced her he was a jerk and to stay in Boston…Thank God?
For years I “knew” I had saved her life. God heard my prayer. So two years later when she announced she was leaving the church a sick thought squirmed in my head. Was she supposed to die? I had head in church that it is better to die in the church then leave it. I tried to tell her about this story to convince her to stay. She wouldn’t hear it. She said I was brainwashed. What had I done? Did I save my sister only to have her sent to an eternity of outer darkness? I didn't care! I loved my sister and was glad to have her. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to handled such a tragedy. I love her so much. This was when the first seeds of discourse about the church settled in. Maybe it was selfish, but I was glad my sister was still alive despite her leaving the church.
The world changed 12 years ago. So many innocent people lost their life’s. People of all different faiths and creeds. People who I’m sure prayed just as earnestly as I did. I did not save my sister. God did not spare her. A dumb boyfriend and dumb luck saved her life. I can't explain why I was up till 3:00 am begging for her safety. Every year I remember how lucky I am that my sister is alive. Without her I’m not sure I would have the courage to leave the church. She has been an example of strength and confidence. She did leave even though everyone was watching. I’m discussed with myself that I ever thought I made a “mistake”. That I begged for her life only to watch her take off her temple garments. My older sister is alive when thousands were not so lucky.
There is one person I can thank. He never walked on water or heal any lepers. He is the lead singer of a band and though he was really only trying to give basic dating advice he inadvertently changed my life forever. I have thanked him many times without getting on my knees.