Sunday, September 11, 2011
What Were You Doing That Day
I debated about posting today. I figured blogs would be swamped with images of 9/11 and what more could I possibly add. Then I thought that being from New Jersey, I might be able to add a different perspective. One that was a little too close to home.
Both of my parents grew up just outside of NYC. My Pop Pop drove a bus in the city and I can remember him taking my sister and I for rides and hiding money in the seats for us to find. When our family would make the 2-hour trip north to visit our grandparents, my siblings and I would get so excited to see the landscape of New York City.
I was always fascinated by the sheer scope of it. It is huge! The real testament to this was how the Empire State Building is so far away from the World Trade Center. It really was something to behold. We always knew that meant we were close to arriving at our destination!
Growing up I remember wondering what is was like for those who lived through Pearl Harbor and the assassination of JFK and knew exactly what they were doing the exact time it happened. Surely I would never get to experience anything like that. The only thing close in my lifetime was the explosion of the shuttle Challenger, which was on a snow day for me and I saw live on TV.
You've heard it so many times, but it truly was the most beautiful day here in the Mid-Atlantic region. I had waited years to afford a new Dining Room set and it would finally be delivered that Tuesday. I had anticipated that day for a long time. The phone rang early that morning and it was the furniture store telling me that my set was on back order. What? How could that be? I want it NOW! Give it to me NOW! I was so annoyed and frustrated. My day was ruined. I sat in my empty Dining Room and wanted to cry in self-pity. I called a friend and vented to her instead. More like ranted. A good friend, she listened and tried to console me. Poor me. No new Dining Room set.
"Hold on Kim, I think I just saw something on TV. I hope it's just a replay of what happened at the WTC a few years ago." I quickly turned on the Today Show. Just in time to see the second plane hit.
Gotta go, I'll call you back.
The first thing I did was call my husband. He works in Philadelphia, directly across from the airport. I told him what had happened. He was in a meeting and couldn't talk. I called him back. You don't understand. We are under attack. You need to come home. There are still planes unaccounted for and they are over our airspace. You need to come home now!
Mallory had just started Kindergarten. She had afternoons and my husband told me not to send her. All the schools were on lockdown. No one could get in or out. I kept her home, and later found out that all of the buses were empty. No afternoon Kindergarteners went to school that day.
After making all of the necessary phone calls, I did the only thing I could think of to do - I went to church. With my parents, I went straight to the altar and fell to my knees and just prayed.
Then I went home and sat in my empty Dining Room and sobbed again. Only this time, I wasn't feeling sorry for myself. Suddenly getting new furniture was the farthest thing from my mind.
Don't be afraid to look at that image and don't be upset with me for showing it. It happened. And for me, it could have been the guy from the next town over. We lost a High School football star from Deptford. We lost a recent college graduate from Haddon Heights. We lost a pilot from Williamstown. The list goes on.
The landscape has forever changed and I've only seen it again a couple of times in the last 10 years. It will never get easier. And now I can say, I know exactly what I was doing when it happened.