Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blue Skies

[Repost from Sept 11, 2011]

Who can forget the blue skies? It was the prettiest of days.

September 11, 2001.

I have mixed emotions about writing this post.  As much as I want to honor our country and remember those we have lost, I don't want to remember.

But?  I will never forget.  No one that witnessed it will ever forget, I think.

That morning I had walked our older children to the bus stop to attend elementary school.  I gathered up Wallene and went home to settle in and finish watching "Good Morning America" with a nice cup of tea.  Usual morning routine, right?  Just like everyone else in the world.

Or so we thought.

I remember sitting on the couch, with Wallene [who was 4] standing between my legs, playing with blocks on the coffee table and me trying to protect my cuppa' from her when all of a sudden Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson broke into their story to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center. It was shortly before 9 am and the pictures they were showing were horrifying. The smoke. It was terrible.

The one thing I never did [and still don't] was call Pooldad at work unless it is an emergency.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but that day?  I did call him.  I told him that a plane had hit one of the WTC towers, but they thought [and so did I] that it was just an accident. A misguided pilot or a malfunction or something else.

As bad as that would've been, I still think to this day - To have been right. 

As I talked to him on the phone, with my eyes glued to the television, I watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower and explode. I gasped.

My husband asked, "Skip...what?"

I whispered into the phone, "Oh my God Pooldad.  This isn't an accident.  They are doing this intentionally." And I started to cry. Silent tears.  I had a pre schooler perched between my legs, playing and being hysterical wasn't my option, I suppose.

We got off the phone so Pooldad could turn on the radio at work and we could make sense of what was going on.

I was in shock. The images. It was surreal.

I knew I needed to run to the little corner store for supplies, so I popped Wallene in her carseat and drove down the winding roads to the shop, all the while the radio was on.  As I crested the hill on that bright, sunny day I heard from the DJ "The Tower has fallen."  I started to cry harder. Again silent tears, but the tears that fell felt like a river. My shirt was getting wet from the amount. Up until that point I don't think I had ever cried that hard in my life.

I walked into the store with Wallene and saw the owner, who we knew well. He asked me what the heck was wrong.  I had no words.  I couldn't believe he didn't know by this point.  I stuttered out, "The Tower fell."  He responded, "What Tower?"  I just asked him to turn on the radio and grabbed my milk and left.

When Wallene and I arrived home I put her in her room to play so I could turn the news back on.  I didn't want her to see the destruction and the pain, the chaos.  I watched the tower fall again. And again. And again. Replay.

Then, suddenly, I saw that the Pentagon had been hit.  Wow.  My heart fell to my feet. I had no words.

You have to understand, at the time Pooldad worked in Arlington, where the Pentagon is located and his office was within 30 seconds flying time of that plane - less than five miles driving.  I was sick.  Not only were terrorists killing innocent people, but my husband and all our friends [his co workers] were in and around DC.  If the next plane they were using missed their target and arbitrarily hit a part of Arlington?  My chest still tightens up at the thought.

Then Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I was panicked.

I tried to call him, but no luck.  It would be a long time before we knew they had grounded all the planes and that no other crashes were going to occur. I wanted so much to go to my kids' school and bring them home, but they were on a lock down and it was impossible. I held out hope that they would be well taken care of and safe.  I felt so hopeless and alone.  My only comfort my 4 year old baby.

I found out later that Pooldad had called all of his men back to the office.  Since Washington DC was on shutdown it took forever for them to get back, but thank goodness they were all safe.  Work, swimming pools, the mundane was no longer important that day.  Everyone thought of the attacks and their loved ones.  Everyone left and attempted to get home.

Pooldad arrived home sometime later that day and I have never been so happy to see him. We held eachother for a long time and I just cried.

The next few days we only watched the television when the kids weren't around.  We even hid the newspaper.  They were so young, we didn't want them to know what was happening - the terror, the pain, the hate. There was no reason to subject them to it. 

I discovered a few years later that none of the kids had ever seen the footage of the Towers falling until they were in their teens. I thought the schools would've shown it before then, but no. When Squirrel saw it for the first time, with me, it about broke my heart.  The tears on her face. She said "Mom, is that how it really happened?  How did you and Dad handle it with us around all the time? How did we not know?"

I didn't have an answer.

This is just my memory of that day.  I write it because I know Pooldad will remember and maybe to share with my kids our memories that we hid from them on that day. And why.

I also write this to honor all of the people that lost their lives on September 11, 2001 - the innocent, the firefighters and policemen trying to save lives and those on Flight 93 that kept that plane from Washington DC, sparing so many more lives while sacrificing their own.

And our troops. Thank you for keeping us safe all these long ten years. I hope you all come home safe. Soon.

To all of you. Thank you.  Truly.  Thank you.

God Bless America.

6 comments:

Gypsy said...

I had to watch all that happening while I was living in Ireland.

colenic said...

I remember reading this the first time you posted and getting choked up then. I am sitting on a conference call with tears in my eyes. Again, thank you for sharing...your words are amazing...

Redhead said...

well said. I watched the 9/11 documentary last night that included all the tower to plane, and military to tower, etc. conversations as the attack was happening. I had never heard all that before, and I cried again. They - all of them - had no clue as to what to do in those circumstances. Hopefully we are better prepared now.

biz319 said...

I somehow saw videos this year that I had never seen before.

One was a woman, who lived in an apartment and had a view of the towers, one of which her husband was in. The video was shot with her back to the camera and her looking at the tower and she was talking to her husband. You could hear him say "I'll be fine - we are just waiting for the firemen to get up here."

Then all of a sudden the tower collapsed and her scream was something I could never wish upon another human. Just so sad.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I still can't think or read about that day without crying. Worst day ever.

12:34

Julie said...

it happened just before 2pm here. At first when they said it was a news flash, I thought the Queen Mother had died. THen I thought it was some film . Sadly not