It was a stunningly beautiful late summer morning. I stalled going in to work so I could spend a few more peaceful minutes on the back porch with a second cup of coffee. One kid at Penn State, the other in high school, and hubby at work, I was alone at home. The phone rang and my husband, who absolutely never loses his cool, was steadying his voice as he said “Turn on the TV. a plane hit the WTC”. It was right after the first plane hit and before the first tower fell. He listened as I described what I saw, up to and including when the first tower fell. Over the years certain parts of that day have faded, and yet clear in my mind was that moment of amazed shock as the building fell. My knees buckled and my legs went out from under me and I plopped down into the floor in front of the tv. I felt ill.
Later on that day, my daughter’s high school sent the kids home, and we were watching the CNN ticker as names of victims went across the screen. My daughter recognized her friend’s mother’s name. Knowing she was a flight attendant, I thought surely it could not be the same person, she’d just had a baby a few months earlier, I didn’t think she had returned to work.
But it was. She was working on Flight 93, and had called her husband to say goodbye. She told him they weren’t going to allow Flight 93 to be used like the other planes and she was going to boil water as a weapon. It was their last conversation; she was so young, and she was very brave. I wonder if that is consolation to the baby boy who grew up without his mother. It did not prevent my daughter’s friend from withdrawing and becoming angry. We think of the victims that day, but each one had a family and friends and coworkers who cared about them, and whose lives were forever changed. The number of victims doesn’t list them, but they were victims too.
And then there was the aftermath, and the loss of firefighters and first responders. Oh how we revered the police and firemen in those days. I wish we could remember.