September 11, 2006

Here's Mine

That morning in 2001 I had an early appointment with a genetic counselor. I was exactly 7 months pregnant with Sean. After the genetic counselor appointment I drove directly to my doctor's for an exam. On the way I promised Luke, then 4, that I would play a game of Uno with him in the waiting room. He had been so good and patient. We walked into the waiting room and saw a lot of pregnant women staring silently into the television hanging high on one end of the room. I asked what was going on. They said two planes had hit the World Trade Centers. I thought, "Two? Hm." Then we sat in the only two empty seats together, under the television, and began playing Uno. I often think what those ladies must have thought about us, so cavalier about the tragedy at the time. We had no idea. The other patients had been there watching for a while, so they knew better what was really happening, though the words on the television were few. For all I knew, it was a couple of little planes, lost in New York City together. I went in for my appointment and then came back out to pay my bill. Standing in the hall, I could see and hear the television and Peter Jennings. He uttered the word "terrorists" and my knees buckled.

I drove home in a small panic. I couldn't reach Stan and Seth on the cell phone. I listened to radio reports. I was absolutely incredulous, like everyone else. We drove through our town and it was empty. Only the music playing over the speakers on the sidewalk, like a suspicious person whistling to divert attention. I was getting more and more upset.

When I walked in the back door, Seth,9, was at the kitchen table doing his math. Stan was sitting on the ottoman in front of the television in the living room, watching the towers burn. I sat down with him and soon we were all in there watching, shocked. Then they began to fall. What? How can this be? My mind couldn't even truly believe it. Then the Pentagon and then the plane in Pennsylvania. Then, for the first time in my life, I felt completely vulnerable. I sat there and could only watch and wonder what these people had planned for us next. I realized my house was perfectly between D.C, Philadelphia and New York City. I thought of possibilities I never pondered before. I thought of my baby and what the world would be like in two months when he would be born.

Then I found out that one of my friends was there, the mother of one of Seth's best friends, on business. She works for the mint in Philadelphia and that day she was at a meeting in a building situated right in the heart of the World Trade area. She was in lock down. She heard everything, felt the ground shaking, but couldn't get in touch with her family untill the next day when they allowed her to make the long walk out of the war zone. We worried so much for her. Another one of my friends from childhood had a meeting there that day. But he sent his assistant. On the way down to D.C. on the train, for another meeting, he heard news of what was happening. He was terrified for his assistant. The assistant was late. He had stopped at Starbucks and there was a line.

Later that afternoon, my family and my parents went up to the only field on a hill in town, the Little League complex, and layed on the grass. We live very close to Philadelphia and at any moment of any day, we can see at least one plane flying over. Sometimes three. We told the kids to look into the sky and notice the emptiness, something they'd never ever see again in their lifetime. We hoped. The silence and the clear blue sky was eerie. I felt like it connected me directly to the chaos going on a couple hours north of me. Strangely, our hearts ached to be there.

The next morning I remember clearly. I woke up and the first thing I thought was disbelief. I simply could not believe they were gone. And the pain and anguish of the people - impossible to know.

1 comment:

kristen said...

what i find amazing is how many people SHOULD have been in the various places and weren't. i still feel disbelief at it all. i sat on the couch w/my 22 month old daughter - hugging her and holding her as much as she'd let me. i finally turned off the tv and played w/irene and read to her. finally my husband came home and we held each other.

on the 1 year anniversary, i had my toddler class (of which dd was one) make a big giant poster for our local firefighters. we'd already arranged the visit. i had all the kids put their handprints all over it. it was wonderful and felt really good. it said "Thank you - For all you've done and all you continue to do." I have one of the most amazing photos of one of the boys in the class w/the fire helmet on - one of those really really wonderful pictures.

anyway, today, my son and i will take a thank you poster to our local firefighters. they live up the block from us. it will be good.