“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “- President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001
Along with nearly everyone else today, I find myself reflecting back on the events of 9/11/2001.
Hard to believe in many ways it was seven years ago. It feels like yesterday. I suppose tragic events do that. They imprint themselves so deeply in your brain you have a hard time forgetting them, if you can forget such things. Like the day I gave birth to my daughter and the last day I saw her, I can still feel it like it was yesterday.
On 9/11, We lived in an enormous (embarrassingly so) home in the southern part of our state, less than seventy miles from New York City. My ex-husband was VP of software sales for a telecom company based in NJ and traveled constantly. I had recently been laid off my from employer due to a reduction in work force. I was freelancing from home and heavily involved in managing the communications for a democratic candidate running for mayor of our city. We were hosting an amazing young woman from Sweden as our au pair. We had one child, my oldest son, Nik. Life was pretty good.
I woke that morning to the sun shining brightly in my bedroom. It was late for us to wake but freelance work and live in childcare tends to grant such luxuries. As my son slept in the bed, I turned on the bedroom radio, headed towards the bathroom to start the shower and found myself surprised that the radio was not playing my usual pop selection but some annoying newscast. It was just before 9 am on September 11.
I switched the radio station. More news.
I switched it again looking for some morning tunes. More news.
I finally realized I should probably listen to the news.
I don't recall exactly what the news said but it caused me to immediately turn on the television housed in the large dark wood armoire in my bedroom.
And I watched it happen.
9:03 am. I watched from the comfort of my very large bedroom the second plane hit the south tower of the WTC. I gasped for air and fell to the floor. My gasp and falling woke my son behind me.
I stood, I tried to calm myself. I walked in circles. I pondered waking our sleeping au pair.
I approached her room and second guessed myself.
My inner dialog ran amuck.
Let her sleep.
No, wake her.
Let her sleep.
No, this is world history happening right now. Wake her.
I finally banged on her door and woke her.
She appeared, bleary eyed and surprised. I called her into my room and there we sat, me, my oldest son and my 19 yo old Swedish au pair, and watched the world as we knew it change forever.
It was at that moment it occurred to me that my husband had flown out of New York only a few hours earlier.
(Or had he?)
Panic once again ran through me and I started to cry. I scrambled for the phone and attempted to contact my husband. Calls were not going through. I frantically dialed again and again.
And then my phone began to ring.
It was my mother. Then my mother in law.
Had I spoken to my husband?
No! I screamed. I did not know where or how he was. I asked everyone to please stop calling me and assured them I would call them back the instant I heard from him.
Au pair stood in disbelief and watched me cry and shake. My then 3 year old son stood on the bed and said "Mommy, why are you crying? Are you crying about Daddy?"
"yes, Sweetie, I am." I responded.
"Are you afraid he is in those burning buildings?" he asked as he pointed to the television now showing pictures of collapsing towers and people jumping out of windows.
"No. Well, yes, kind of, honey". I responded without even thinking.
"But Mommy, Daddy is a fireman. He will be okay.." my sons responds with three year old logic and admiration for his father the volunteer fireman.
I grab him and pull him close to me and sob deeply into his blond hair. I am struck that my son thinks that his father being a volunteer fireman makes him invincible and super human.
Somehow we got through the day like most Americans. We watched far too much television, frantically tried to call loved ones, and frequently became distracted and lost in stunned silence. My au pair tried to call her family in Sweden with no luck.
Around 4 pm that day my husband finally got through to me. He was in Atlanta. He had flown out of NY hours before the terror had begun. He got into Hartsfield airport so early in the morning on 9/11 that he rented a car, went to his hotel and safely slept through the events of 9/11. Later that day, he began his drive home from GA to CT.
Following my conversation with him, I retreated to my master bedroom bathroom and crumpled to a ball between the toilet and the whirlpool tub. I couldn't stop crying.
It was at that moment, the moment that I knew my loved ones were safe, it occurred to me.
Where was my daughter?