It was a cool morning. A day like every other. I was helping with Ches’ marching band, so I was up early for early morning rehearsal. The kids had done well, learning some new stuff. At the end of rehearsal I went to the band office to hang out until the bell rang and classes started. It was easier to leave the school then because there was less traffic. Ches was busily preparing for his first class. I could hear the happy buzz of high school students in the band room. Some were talking, some were laughing, and some were playing on the percussion instruments (of course!). The cheerleading coach walked into Ches’ office to get a recording of the fight song and some pep tunes. As Ches was getting that for her, she casually throws out, “So did you hear about New York? It’s all over the news. A plane hit the World Trade Center and they think it was hijacked.”
What she said didn’t really make sense to me. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen. I didn’t believe her. And the way she talked about it, so flippantly, as if it was a fictional book she was reading and telling us some of the plot.
I got into my Saturn to drive the short way home. As usual the radio was on, but instead of the morning music, it was all talk. I didn’t comprehend what they were saying, but it seemed to back up what the cheerleading coach had said. And now it sounded like two planes had hit two buildings. I was stunned. Two planes isn’t an accident. What in the world is going on?
I arrived home and turned on the TV to NBC. It was all live coverage of New York City. I got there in time to see the first tower fall. I felt frozen, with my hand over my mouth although no sound could come out anyway. This just doesn’t happen in the United States! I watched the news and listened to the raw, emtional reactions of New Yorkers. For the first time in my life I wasn’t offended by such harsh language because I knew that these people couldn’t express themselves in any other way. It was the most foul combination of words, putting such an ugly word in the middle of my Savior’s name. Instead of being offended, I felt the pain of the observers.
I watched the news on my own for about an hour and a half, then I couldn’t stand to be alone anymore. I didn’t have children and my spouse was at work and it was a big, empty house we were living in. Most days I loved the peace of living in the middle of a cow pasture. Not this day, however. I jumped in my car and drove a mile to Ches’ uncle and aunt’s house. People were there. They even had company from Canada, getting ready for a cousin’s wedding.
I was welcomed in the house where the news was on there, too. We watched more coverage for what seemed like an eternity. How long, I just don’t know. So many questions. Finally we had had enough, so the channel was changed. We watched Judge Judy as we did wedding preperations.
I didn’t have anyone close to me in New York, Washington, D.C., or Pennsylvania. I didn’t know anyone on the planes. I didn’t have any relatives with a “close call” that you’re always hearing about. I heard later that one of my high school classmates had been in one of the Towers and she was missing for a while, but it turned out she was safe and unharmed. I really didn’t have a close connection to the attacks, but I felt a connection.
At first it was confusion. Then total fear. Next came anger. Then complete sadness.
It still emotionally tears at my heart to think of that day. The day that changed our country completely. So much is different now, since 9/11. It doesn’t matter what your political views, we all know this was a tragedy to it’s fullest. It still seems so surreal to me, and I don’t know if I will ever get over it.
It’s not just that I will never forget. I can’t forget. And I don’t really want to.