Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blue Skies

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.


Juli said...

DAmn it. You made me cry... Again.

I can't even imagine being in the DC area in 2001. I was in Rome when the US embassy in Africa was bombed. I remember our last day there, watching the Italian army roll tanks and troops through the streets, ready to protect their borders from the terror unfolding just 80 miles away.


I am so glad that your family and all the families that you work with were OK.


Teresa said...

A very poignant post. I remember every detail of that day as well.

Crystal Pistol said...

This was a sweet/sad post. I think each of us remembers exactly where we were and how we reacted that day. As awful as that was once thing I loved was how the country was united and of one heart and mind. Our grief was so strong and strangers were suddenly family.

Lyndylou said...

Here in Scotland, I was in total disbelief and I knew the world would never be the same again. The horror of it all still haunts me even watching it again on the news last night, I felt the same.

Julie said...

I agree with Lyndy - here in Scotland, it just didn't seem possible that this had happened in NY. I thought it some some bad movie. And when no one at the primary school mentioned a thing, well - maybe it hadn't happened.
Lou was at high school and they had been told. We did watch as a family - but at times it was hard to explain to them why this had happened and how it wasn't just Americans who were affected - it seemed every nationality was.

I do believe the best way to get back at these idiots is to live a good life to the full - and remember that the actions of one or 2 idiots from a single nationality does not define all of them. I have met some great Muslims and rubbish Christians.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts goes out to you all over there today.

Southhamsdarling said...

That was such a poignant and beautifully written post today my friend. Wonderful descriptive piece about your memories of that tragic day. All your friends here in England are offering up prayers to all our American friends today, and we pray for peace and that nothing like that ever happens again. Hugs.

life in the mom lane said...

I have been watching many of the specials and documentaries and it has upset and depressed me all over again. QB1 had never seen the coverage because he was only 7 when 9/11 happened and we didn't allow the kids to watch either.

He looked at me last week when me were watching and was visibly moved. He said "I had never actually seen it- I never really KNEW what happened how horrifying it was... now I get it".

On 9/11 I was substituting in a third grade classroom and saw/heard what had happened at lunch time- I remember crying and feeling very scared. We were instructed to keep tv's off and to say nothing about it so the kids would not overhear. That was a HARD day to get through.

Hubby & I were glued to the tv that night. I stayed home the rest of the week and actually kept the kids home the next day. I just needed to hold them....

We can NEVER forget.

Rebecca said...

beautifully written and i remember sitting on my living room floor after it happen holding my baby boy tight

Sandra said...

Amazing post, Skippy. I was riveted. I could feel your pain. Today is such a hard day to face. I've avoided the tv, the radio, and the internet. But I just couldn't stop reading your words.

Sandra said...

Amazing post, Skippy. I was riveted. I could feel your pain. Today is such a hard day to face. I've avoided the tv, the radio, and the internet. But I just couldn't stop reading your words.