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.


Catie @ Catie's Corner said...

What a moving post. It was too much for me to write about and my post ended up very short. That image of the man who jumped is soo disturbing, but you're right to include it. I can't imagine coming to the decision to jump. How terrify!

~ Catie

stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing Kim! I'm glad you did!! It's a day of mixed emotions for me, it's the day I first became a mother. My daughter is 14 today and for that I want to celebrate but....... I just hate that her day is only associated with such horror.

I just love when everyone shares their stories, I feel that it just brings us all so much closer. Something the terrorists will never be able to take away from us. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!

CalypsoInTheCountry said...

Hi Kim,
I am glad you posted - I thought about it because I have some pictures tucked away somewhere of the towers and of me on the observation deck. I couldn't find them though. I was at work in NJ on 9/11 watching everything unfold on the computer monitor. I worked in a brokerage firm and we always had the news on our monitors in the morning. We watched the whole thing happen and when the tower came down, our monitors froze with the picture of the fallen tower stuck on our screen because we got our signal from NY. We all went home and it felt like the world was ending. We didn't lose anyone close to us but as you know, if you live in New Jersey you know of a lot of people who died that day. That last picture really jolted me... I had almost forgotten how the people were jumping. What a horrible, horrible day.
Take care,

Jemsmom said...

I was in Germany and Tom was in the states and scheduled to fly that day. I was the afternoon for me and I just called my dad to say "hello" before going to a birthday party and he told me what was happening. I turned on CNN International (it was the only channel we had in English!) and watched with my dad as the first tower collapsed. I told him Tom was flying and he told me to get off the phone, call him and tell him to not get on a plane that day. I couldn't get through to him. We only had the one portable phone and the battery was going down. Every time I charged it to try to get through, someone would call me to see if I was o.k. I finally got through to Tom and all flights had just been cancelled.

I know this is crazy, but I was terrified war would be declared and I would be alone in a foreign country by myself. I wanted my husband, my family and my friends. I stayed glued to the t.v. for hours at a time for days. I couldn't tear myself away, but then I started having horrible nightmares. My dad told me that I had to turn the t.v. off and go out and live my life. I had to. I couldn't sleep and I was afraid to sleep.

It was weird to be there and not be a part of the surge of patriotism that arose in America. We were warned to not let everyone know we were American. We shouldn't wear the flag or show our patriotism. I understood why, but felt so disconnected from everyone who was going through it.

I still haven't been able to watch the reports that come every year at this time and the specials. It is too hard for me. It is too hard to think of all those families who never had their loved one come home. I was lucky enough that my husband made it home but their were so many who didn't.

I will have to explain all this to Jemma one day and I pray I can do it the right way. How do you explain something that is so hard to understand yourself?

Thank you for sharing. Sorry I rambled on. Coincidentally, Tom is in Germany today and I am home. I am glad you posted as I felt I needed to say it, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Thank you.

Linda Anne Young said...

Kim, I'm glad you shared that with us, it connects us. It's important to solemnly remember this awful time, and unite in prayerfulness to honor those we lost. And particularly important to tell how it changed the lives of people so nearby. So many local people lost someone they knew and loved. It is also fitting that you talked about your Grandparents , particularly your Grandpa driving the bus in NYC, on Grandparent"s Day. Thank you for this heartfelt post!
May God Bless America!

Victoria said...

That image of the man jumping is chilling, little did he know as started work that day he would end up throwing himself out of the sad:(

Thank you for sharing and reminding us to keep things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this post, Kim. As a high school senior in Tennessee, I have to admit I felt a bit displaced from this tragedy when it happened. I knew no one who lived any further north than KY and had never traveled remotely close to the area.

But as the years have gone by and I've gotten older, I began to realize what this actually meant for the entire country, even high school girls in TN. It meant that our brothers went off to war, and our boyfriends, too, once we graduated. Slowly I began to pay more attention to the world outside of my little bubble. Reading posts like this makes my heart ache for the ones who were truly affected by this tragedy. Thanks so much for sharing about your day.