9:30 AM Edit This 8 Comments »
Seven years ago today. I was blissfully sleeping in, snuggled up warm in my blankets, enjoying a crisp, blue skied fall day. My phone rang, startling me. No one calls me that early in the morning, but they did that day. All my friend said was, "I'm sure you're still in bed. Go turn on your tv and I'll be right over." in that ominous kind of way. So, as I pulled my robe on and tapped on the remote, the second tower was going down, bodies were flying through the air, confused reporters were crying to look away.

My sister lived in Manhatten and worked at the hospital just blocks from the World Trade Center. Where was she? On the subway? Safe at home? Stuck at work? And just as the panic set in, my friend showed up with coffee and a big hug. Then the phone began in earnest. My mother, hysterically yelling that if anyone was going to get through to my sister it was her, and don't I dare even try because I would just add to the mess of people dialing in vain. My brother called crying and I had nothing for him. Just silent shock.

I worked for the church at the time and I know this day was the day in which I lost all faith in organized religion. It pains me to say that, but it is so true. I lived in the parish house and wandered over still in pajamas for some comfort. The pastor was snappily dressed in his suit and tie and said, "You've never lived through a war. This is no big deal compared to that." And I shut down just a little bit more and slowly turned and left without saying a word. Somehow I managed to get showered, watching the tv footage replay the scenes over and over.

Wandered back to the church for a bit to sit with the secretary. Members were calling in all day, "Are we having a memorial service? Can we just come and sit in the sanctuary and pray?" And they started pouring in, wanting some sort of direction, some kind of peace to be shared in the midst of utter confusion. I spent the rest of the day, praying with parishioners, hoping against hope that my mother would have reached my sister, alternating between being strong for others and running back to my office to panic.

The day changed me. Hardened my heart to some things, opened my heart to others. My sister called my mother at 4 p.m. She had been at home, watching it unfold from the roof of her apartment building, phoning every five minutes to see if she could get through. She called me later in the day. She was softspoken and said all she wanted was to hear my voice. And I understood. Just to hear her voice. I was one of the lucky ones that didn't lose someone. And I remain blessed today by that fact.

I watched as the city workers put flags up all around town - the ones usually reserved for the Fourth of July. I still get shivers down my spine when I see a row of flags. Reminds me of that terrible day.


Kristen said...

I was on the phone with my mother in law, wishing her a happy birthday when KAPOW!

What the hell...?

What a horrible, horrible day.

Sara said...

I remember hearing about the twin towers as my alarm clock went off (I wake to the radio, not the buzzer). I dashed into my kitchen, picked up the phone and dialed your sister -- nothing but a busy tone. I went to work and e-mailed her. She was able to respond that afternoon -- she and Jonathan were okay. I cried at my desk. She called me later that night -- she wasn't working at the hospital yet, she had her first interview on Sept. 12. She wanted to know if she should still go (she was in shock, like the rest of us, not knowing what to do).

carrster said...

oh crap, Kate. you made me cry.

I had a plane ticket for Sept 11. Needless to say I didn't fly. I was "stuck" in Austin for the rest of the week and ended up taking a greyhound (ack!) back to LA that Friday. I will never forget that day. Ever. I can barely stand to watch the video now, and I was not *personally* affected. It still just makes me shut down a little.

Tenakim said...

Thanks for sharing- I'm glad your sister was physically fine, although scarred, I'm sure.

saratogajean said...

Thanks for giving me a moment to reflect.

eerily enough, my captcha is "wilbok"; I always think these things are have hidden messages

Nilsa S. said...

You made me tear up with this post. We had similar experiences. Siblings working/living in New York. No way to get through to them. No way to know. I, too, got that relieved phone call later in the day. I cannot imagine what it was like for those who never did.

Shania said...

Horrible. What a hellish day. It was hard enough for those of us with no one in NY, I can't imagine how it must have been for you.

Sweetly Single said...

That day hit Canada just as hard. I remember being at work on the airbase and watching as all of the planes were redirected our way...but not knowing why.

When we finally heard the news it was so surreal and if I wasn't posted I would have jumped into helping.

I'm so sorry your family had such a hard time during that day