Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

Watching the Today show that morning, I stood frozen watching what was happening on the screen in the greatest city in the world... The attacks on the World Trade Center. Buildings had not yet collapsed; but my heart was crushed, reason shattered. What I was seeing could not be happening. My defense mechanisms made it so that I could no longer hear the news reports; all I could do was stand in the middle of the living-room watching. I flipped the channel to CNN and decided I had to do something before my coping mechanisms began shutting down.

We lived in Texas... In the home of our dreams... In a close-knit neighborhood... Best memories: Our forested surroundings which provided constant music of wildlife night and day. And, I'll admit I also enjoyed the regular traffic of planes flying in and out of the nearby airport. I love planes. I loved all of it.

First thing I did was try to reach Rick at work. Enough information had seeped into my brain that I knew that there was a great possibility of more attacks on other major hubs . I thought "Where could we be hit crippling blows by whomever was doing this?" Major ports-of-call. Oil fields. Airports. Financial districts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Houston! Rick was in Houston. Large financial district, large oil industry, Port of Houston, Johnson Space Center... President Bush's home state where he had been Governor before being elected President - my heart sank. Next images on the news: The Pentagon. I had to reach Rick. All circuits are down. Again and again I called. It seemed like half a day passed trying to reach him. it wasn't even an hour before we finally connected, and he was okay. I wanted him home, now.

There were more calls to make. Living near Bush Intercontinental Airport meant having neighbors employed with Continental Airlines; I had to check in with families that I knew had dads who were pilots for the airline which had corporate office in Houston... I had to tell my mom friends that they were in my thoughts and that I was praying for their husbands safety. I called all the neighbor moms too, we were all facing the same challenge: What to say to the our kids? We were all moms to children under ten years of age. They all, as I, had just seen the kids off to school. I felt like it had already been the longest day; the kids had been at school only a little over an hour when I showed up to pick them up to bring home with me - many parents did the same; we wanted to have our babies close, keep them as safe as we possibly could and within our sights. What was happening in me was that I had shifted into P.T.S.D. mode; thankfully I knew what to do. Since Rick couldn't say when he could be home, I decided to keep all four of us at home distracted from what was happening. A plane had just crashed. On the way home from picking up my kids from the elementary school we stopped and picked up several movie rentals at our neighborhood Blockbuster; then walked a few doors down to Subway Sandwich for a special lunch treat. We loaded back in the mini-van, turned James Taylor cd on the car stereo nice and loud and headed home. "Why are you picking us up, Mom?" "I just wanted us to be together today."

Rick showed up a little past 3:00. We were all together. On our east coast, the world seemed to be ending. I went back to watching news coverage alone. I had to cry... quietly... cry and cry. Buildings were crumbling, planes were crash landing, no one could have ever imagined anything like what was happening happening. I was helpless like everyone else. Outside, the skies were beginning to still. All flights cancelled; No idea when Americans would again be safe on land or in the air. Other than brief phone calls to check in with neighbors, it was days before I could pull myself away from the news on the television to go outside and join them. We always met in the cul-de-sac to chat as our young children worked off afternoon energy before dinner. It wasn't the same. The kids played as usual; everything else had changed. It was so quiet. No planes overhead, their silence was deafening. In their place, sirens. Emergency vehicles seemed to be out constantly throughout the day. What was happening to our world? Where had the songbirds gone? I wanted September 10th 2001 back.

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