Ren and the art of Motorcycles

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years ago today

Today, many people are remembering. Bloggers are memorializing those who died. I can’t do that yet. The memories are still too painful and bring tears to my eyes. I will not watch the news re-showing the event, I am not reading the numerous articles in the paper. I have avoided all TV shows, movies, and videos. I will stop in and read the memorial articles written by bloggers linked to I hope that blogging will help me lay some of the ghosts to rest. (In order to protect my neighbors’ privacy some identifying details have been changed a little or left out).

September 11, 2001….a beautiful sunny, warm day. My good friend’s birthday. I arrived at work and settled into the routine of the day. All of a sudden, a coworker came over and said that an airplane had crashed into one of the twin towers. From our workplace across the river, we had a very clear view of the towers through the windows. No one could get any news, so we checked with one of the directors in his office. He had a radio, and turned it on as we all looked out his windows at the smoke. The news of the time was solely that a plane had crashed into the tower. No one knew anything else.

We returned to work, then, as a few of us walked over to the windows a short time later to look again, we watched as another plane flew towards the towers. We commented that the plane looked quite low, but it was not uncommon for us to see fairly low flying planes, being near three major airports. Then, we watched in horror as the second plane flew into the other twin tower. We screamed, then began to cry as the tragedy of the crash hit and the news reported this was another terrorist attack. For the first time we heard about the other crashes being reported on the news.

All over the building work was abandoned as employees crowded around the windows and watched the smoking of the towers. Employees who had family working in the city tried frantically to call them. Then, the worst sight of all….the collapse of the two towers. Even now, I can see the crumbling as the towers fell, and an enormous cloud of smoke and dust rose into the sky. We hoped and prayed that everyone who could had gotten out safely; those who had family working in the towers kept trying to call. No one could get through to New York as lines and cell towers dealt with the overwhelming amount of calls.

I called my children’s school. The secretary told me the schools were closing as the children were hysterical, especially those who had parents working in New York. Business ended for the day; the company sent everyone home. My children, when I arrived home, told me the good and horrible news….our cousin, who had an appointment in the towers, was safe as his appointment had been cancelled at the last minute. BUT….our neighbor, the woman who took my children to school every day, who was a wonderful, kind, loving mother and wife, who was a fantastic financial person, who worked very high up in the towers, had not called, had not come home, and no one knew anything.

My children were in tears, and I was finding it hard to be strong for them. They had several friends whose parents (one or both) worked in the city, and in and around the twin towers. Only one friend had heard that her father was OK and on his way home. The rest waited. The children across the street cried as no word came from their mother, and their father battled his way through traffic to come home.

When he, I walked over and talked to him…heartbroken and shaken, he had not been able to contact his wife. He had spoken to her only minutes before the first plane crashed and had not spoken to her since. Our tears flowed together as we suspected the worst. We both knew, if she was alive, she would have called, or arrived home by the time we met. Like him, my family continued to hope she would arrive home. Her children ran to the sidewalk every time they heard a train whistle, hoping to see her car driving down the road.

Another neighbor, whose husband worked in the towers, arrived. Her husband was a funny, loving father and husband. Always involved with his children’s activities, he and his wife were well known around the schools and the town for their willingness to help where needed. She, too, had no news and was hoping desperately to be told he had gotten out alive before the crash of the towers. She clung to her children as we stood outside and waited. Other neighbors, also waiting, came by and left. Some had spouses coming home, alive and well. Others had had telephone calls, their family member was OK, but couldn’t get home due to the traffic and disruption of mass transit. Others just waited.

When Husband arrived home from work that day, he and Childling #1 went to a local park, from which the towers could be seen on a clear day. There were many people at the park that day, staring at the still-billowing clouds of smoke, leaving flowers on a table. No one spoke, although many cried. Strangers comforted each other as they stared across the river. That night, I lit some candles in a local park and cried as I remembered.

As the following days passed, joy and hope bloomed, faded and ended. Some neighbors came back home. Other neighbors didn’t come home and, perhaps worse, their bodies were never found. .Memorial services, remembering their lives, were held. Life continued. But, even five years later, we have not forgotten.


  • At 9:19 AM, Blogger Aviaa said…

    That was beautifully written. My heart goes out to you and your neighbors.


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