Saturday, August 6, 2011

R is for Remember

When T was a baby, Dave had to get up at about 4a and leave for work. I used to get up at the same time, but just to get T and bring him into the bed with me. If I didn't get him, he'd wake up for good at about 6a; if I did get him, he'd (we'd) sleep until about 7:30-8a. (Two years later, I did this with D2 also.)

One morning, when T was about 4 months old, he and I were just waking up. It was about 7:30a and my phone rang. I reached over and picked it up and heard Dave's voice say (rather urgently), "Did I wake you? Turn on the news."

I said (rather sleepily), "You didn't wake us, we were just barely awake though. What's on the news?"

Dave, "I don't know. We were all working on the [golf] course and someone from the shop radioed and said it's all over the news that someone bombed the Pentagon. And they also said someone flew a small plane into the Twin Towers in New York."

That woke me up! I flipped on the news and started a full day of horror. It was 9/11.

I couldn't watch and I couldn't look away. I watched TV for over an hour and I turned to T and whispered, "I'm sorry this is the world we have for you. We will try to make it better."

I watched all day. I didn't eat or get dressed or even go to the bathroom. I held my baby and watched.

I saw the towers fall and I saw the people fleeing and the cops yelling at the people video-recording. They weren't yelling at them for recording, they were yelling at them to get the hell out of the area.

I remember seeing the tire of one of the planes that hit the Towers. It was at the foot of the Tower and people were pointing and taking pictures of it. It looked so big and the people looked so small.

I remember seeing one man. I saw him several times during the day and it broke my heart every time. He was wearing business clothes and had a baby carrier strapped to the front of him with a baby in it that was just about T's age. They were both covered in dust and he was holding a dust mask over the baby's face. I saw him at least 4 times that day and in different areas. Whoever was filming was in the same group of people that man was in.

I remember when Dave came home, I was completely drained. I'd been crying all day and I couldn't take any more. Dave wanted to watch. He'd been at work all day and hadn't seen any of it. So we watched together. After a few more hours, it was bedtime and I was begging him to turn it off. He said, "I can't. I feel like if I turn it off, I'm..... I don't know.... abandoning all those poor people or something."

This shocked me. When it comes to strangers, Dave doesn't have a sympathetic bone in his body. Whenever I tell him some horror news story or I'm watching some show where the story makes me cry (Extreme Makeover - Home Edition, etc.), he's always says, "What do you care?? You don't even know those people." But this...

This effected him deeply. He couldn't stop watching and it was about midnight when he finally felt he could turn it off.

I think that day is this generation's JFK assassination. If you ask anyone from that era where they were when they heard about it, what they were doing, and how they heard.... most of them have complete and total recall of those moments.

I remember for months afterward, everyone was telling those stories.... when, how, what..... no one would ever forget.

At the spa where I worked, I remember a few months after 9/11, I worked on a man that lived just a few blocks from the Twin Towers. He worked from home and thought an earthquake had hit when the first plane crashed. He said he was in the Towers when they tried to blow it up years earlier and that was why he worked from home. So for a split second, he thought it was an earthquake, but, deep down, he knew it was a bomb. He stayed inside as long as he could but when he heard stronger crashing sounds, he stuck his head out his front door and saw that WALL of dust and debris coming at him. He went back inside and got in his bathtub because he figured it was the safest place in his brownstone.

Then, almost 6 months later, I worked on another man with close ties. Too close...

He was IN the Tower. The South tower. He was on the floor with the gym (5th floor?), and had just finished his workout. He was showered and had gotten dressed in his business clothes - fancy shoes, 3 piece suit (he's a high-priced lawyer). He said he heard the crash but didn't know what it was. He told me some gym worker popped his head into the locker room and told everyone they had to get out. Gym Worker said there was a bomb threat and they had to evacuate the building. This lawyer blew it off and got ready at his leisure and left.

He told me that he had just gone outside and was looking at the North tower and the burning wreckage when the second plane hit the South Tower. All hell was breaking loose and it was about not very long before the Towers collapsed.

He told me that the authorities were herding everyone away from the towers and he was less then a mile away from the Towers when they fell. He told me he couldn't find any transportation home and had to walk ten miles before he could find transportation the rest of the way home. He told me that he had his gym bag with him and I asked if he changed his shoes to his sneakers. He said that he didn't, that that had never even occurred to him during that whole ten mile walk.

Then he starts telling me about how his best friend since high school was giving a presentation in the restaurant on the top of the North Tower that day. He said they went through college and law school together. He also told me that his daughter and his friend's daughter are in soccer together and it hurts his heart every time he sees that girl. How it kills him that she has to grow up without his friend as her dad, because he was such a loving dad.

Yea.... he's face down and telling me all this. I'm giving him a massage and crying like an idiot. I was using my shoulder and my shirt sleeve to wipe my eyes and my nose and trying not to let on that I was crying. When I flipped him over to work on the other side, I put a cool, rolled up washcloth to cover his eyes so he wouldn't see that I was so upset.

Ten years later, we all still remember so vividly.

When bin Laden was killed, some people celebrated. Some people were angry at the celebrating people. None of it made any sense to me. I mean, they gotta know that his death isn't going to make a difference. If anything, it will make things worse!

I told T that we'd do our best to make this world better. Dave and I have no ability to make the world as a whole better but we have every ability to make his small world the best we can.

Where were you? What were you doing? How did you hear?

I'll never forget, Ruth!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I was at work - a mile or so North of the Towers. A friend pinged me to say a plane hit the Towers, we grabbed TVs to watch the news.

I watched people covered in white walking up 6th Avenue -- the city had never and has never since been so quiet. I had to message a friend in Texas so he could call my parents to tell them I was okay.

and in some sort of strange coincidence, in 2009 my Dad died on 9/11