I can’t say I remember exactly what I was doing at the time. I just knew I was home with three young kids and ready to tear my hair out. My oldest was in half-day kindergarten, but I still had two at home. One was only a few months old. I was tired and STRUNG OUT. The last thing I needed? My husband’s business trip. It was hard to run the house alone. But he was going, leaving the next day for a meeting at the Pentagon.
Cool for him, I thought to myself, but definitely not cool for me. If only something would happen so he wouldn’t have to go. That's when he called home from work.
“Is the TV on?” he asked.
“Of course,” I replied. Our family couldn’t function without its daily dose of ‘Blues Clues.’
“Turn it to a major network. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.” He paused. “It’s bad.”
The rest of the day I watched in horror. I saw the second plane crash. I saw the first tower fall. I saw the second tower go next.
I saw, I saw, I saw.
My husband’s meeting at the Pentagon was cancelled. Didn’t I feel lucky.
Back in the day, I remember my social studies teacher saying, “If you ask your parents where they were when President Kennedy was shot, I bet they can tell you.” I think the same holds true for September 11th. Ask your parents where they were, what they were doing when the towers went down, and I bet they have an answer. They probably have stories, too.
Like the one about our college friend who had worked at the New York Stock Exchange at the time. When the first plane hit, he decided to make it an early day and head home. A few thousand other people had the same idea. As he was hustling to catch the ferry back to New Jersey he heard people behind him yell, “Run!” He did. When he finally looked behind him all he saw was a massive cloud of gray. No people. Just gray.
One of my husband’s old co-workers had a father who worked in the south tower, the second one to be hit but the first to go down. He said when the plane hit, security came around and told everyone to stay in their cubicles, announcing, “everything was under control.” Well as wonderful as that sounded, the father decided it was a great time to go down to the lobby and grab a quick cup of coffee. He went downstairs, bought a cup to go, then walked straight out of the building toward home.
In both stories they made it out alive. They were the fortunate ones. So many others weren’t so lucky. Those tales are harder to tell.
I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if my husband’s meeting had been a day earlier. Would he have made it, or would my kids have grown up without a father? I don’t like to dwell on it long. I’m just glad he’s here, safe and sound.
If only more stories had ended like that.