Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where I Was

I lived near Albany, NY at the time and I was alone at work in our little two-office suite. My colleagues had traveled the evening before to Buffalo, NY for a client event. I remember getting an email from a list that I was on that said one of the Twin Towers had been hit. I went downstairs to the little Deli to see what happened. There were a few people milling around looking for the news. Dotty had it on NBC, I can still hear Katie Couric and Matt Lauer reporting and the video feed just rolling over and over and over showing the first plane hitting while sense was trying to be made.

And then the second one hit. This was no accident.

I ran back upstairs and called my cousin who worked in D.C. I reached her immediately. Since no one was sure what was going on, we kept it short; she was ok, her family was OK. We were all ok. After the airplane hit the Pentagon, she called me again to assure me that the whole family was safe.

I called my Mom to let her know that her brother, Don, was not in harm’s way at all. I remember hearing the relief in her voice. Then I said “Happy Birthday Mom”. We both laughed a little; still tense, not knowing. All the reports coming in of other planes that could not be accounted for, other potential hijackings. Then Flight 93 hit that field in Pennsylvania, and I read on line the speculation.

I knew my kids were safe; and ascertained that my work colleagues were ok. They couldn’t fly home and somehow they found a car, stuffed to the brim with people wanting to get home and started driving. When I got home, all I could do was watch the news, watching the different angles of the towers being hit, the smoke along the skyline from the view at the Statue of Liberty. The kids asked me if we were going to be ok. I may have breached some critical parental etiquette, but I said, “I don’t know.” I did assure them that no matter what happened, we would be together. Must have made them feel better because they all went off in their own directions to play – ride bicycles outside, play some online video game, go to their friend’s house. My attempts to keep them with me, to teach them that they were involved in a monumental act of terrorism that they would remember the rest of their lives, well, didn’t quite hit home.

Maybe that meant I did a good job with them; that they felt safe and secure and they didn’t need to focus on the horror. Uhhh, no. More like, they were kids, not grasping the import. Moving on to something more fun and interesting. God Bless them. To be that young again.

I stayed up all night, fitful bouts of slumber. I cried a lot. The images of people jumping from the buildings, dust covered New Yorkers running in terror. Firefighters and policemen doing whatever they could. I just kept crying at it all.

I was affected, certainly, but not as much as some. I didn’t lose anyone. I will never forget that horrible silence outside. Birds don’t chirp so much in September; the hum of the bugs outside seemed to simply punctuate the silence in the air. Like when your refrigerator motor shuts off; you don’t hear the noise until you can’t hear it anymore.

Time moves forward; there is work to do, bills to pay, divorces to finalize. Life is always stronger than death and people forget that they got on their knees and prayed, that they hugged their kids, or that politicians stood on steps and sang together – even Hillary, though she looked none too pleased about it.

I hope I don’t forget what was most important to me that day. It wasn’t work, or the bills. It was my children, my family and my God. I should let all of them know again today, like I did six years ago, that I love them.


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