Wow. September 11 is coming up fast. I flipped the TV on tonite and found yet another documentary show about 9/11/01. No matter how many times I see the photos, hear the recorded calls and hear the interviews of the family members, I'm awed by the whole thing.
I didn't know anyone that was directly affected by the 9/11 attacks...meaning, I don't know anyone that died or anyone whose family member perished. My husband's youngest brother and his (now) wife lived and worked in NYC though. On that morning, Andrew was scheduled to be on one of the planes that left Newark that morning...but was running late, so he boarded a flight an hour later. When all of the planes were forced to land, he ended up in Ohio and rented a car with another passenger and drove back to NYC. That is definitely a close enough reference for me.
To me, this was 3 lifetimes ago... I was working in my 8 year position at the Corporate office of an Industrial Gas Company in Malvern, PA. I can't believe it, but I can recall that in 2001 I was just beginning to understand the internet. It was before we had it at home and though it was available at work, it was password protected for most of us. Also, we used email then, but it was mostly used for business and mostly for internal communication at that time....at least in my world. Faxing was the big thing...not email and the internet. I remember that one of the more techy guys in my department had an internet access and he made the habit of having CNN.com up on his PC during the day. He came out of his office and reported to us that a commercial jet had hit the WTC. I can recall my initial reaction was Oh My God (before OMG was the thing to say), those poor people sitting in that plane must have seen the buildings get closer and closer and then the explosion...OMG. It still brings tears to my eyes to even try to imagine an inkling of what those poor people must have been through before they perished.
At that point, we didn't even know that it was thought to be a terrorist attack...we were just chalking it up to a pilot error or something. I got up from my seat and walked around the cubicles to a friend's office to see if she had heard the news. Everyone almost instantly knew about it. Incredible. We didn't even have a TV in the building and I'm telling you most of us were restricted to using the internet for merely our own corporate website...so how the word spread so fast, still amazes me. I was standing in the hall with a group of 3 other people discussing what must have happened to the pilot when someone said "Another plan just hit". WHAT??? I think we all grew silent and we must have all felt the same thing..that something was terribly wrong.
I called my husband who was still home and was walking out the door when he saw on the news that the 1st plane hit. He was watching the TV when the 2nd plane hit. He immediately called his Mom who then found out that Andrew was scheduled to fly out that morning on business to California. She tried to reach Kendra (his fiance) or Andrew via cell phones but couldn't get through At some point we all tried to get in touch with Andrew...the sound of those busy signals felt like they lasted for hours. My MIL was able to reach his voicemail and told him very quickly what was going on... I don't think at that point she even knew that he was scheduled for one of those early flights. Finally, Kendra's parents were able to reach Kendra at her work in an Art Studio on 5th Avenue. She was beside herself because she knew that Andrew was scheduled for an early flight and didn't know at that time that he changed it. She said the city was in total chaos and businesses were shutting down everywhere, yet noone wanted to leave work because they were afraid of what was next. It seemed like a NYC isolated thing until the plane hit the Pentagon.
When I heard that news, I just went back to my desk and prayed. I thought about the fact that we were close to Philadelphia and that we were close to the Limerick Nuclear plant and that someone had to stop this madness. I called my Mom because I wanted to tell her and my Dad that I loved them. She was home, watching the TV and I stayed on the phone with her for a long time getting updates. I still can hear her reaction when the first building started to fall. The pain in her voice as she watched the unimaginable site...still moves me. How was this not a scene from a movie? How was this happening? Looking back now, I'm so glad that I was not in front of a TV when all of this went down. I'm not sure I could have handled it. Seeing the recurring nightmare played out on screen, after the fact, over and over again...was enough for me. Oh those poor people and the horror! I've never been a big fan of planes and flying.. (saw too many Airport movies past my bedtime when I was little).. and I really do have a fear of fire. The thought that those thousands of people died in such a horrific way, just eats me up inside.
Of course we found out in all of the 9/11 documentary shows years later that some of the passengers got to talk to their spouses and family members via the invention of cell phones several years earlier. How the heck did they get through that... I'm choked up right now. Their amazing stories of bravery and circumstance...it's a big deal.
In 2001, my husband and I were trying for a family and it wasn't happening. After 9/11, I blamed my job entirely for creating such stress and left my position to work to take over my Father's CPA practice in Norristown PA. In the meantime, I got my Real Estate License because my husband, who has his own business, was building houses and we figured "it couldn't hurt". I worked with Dad for a few years and also parttime at a bank, for the benefits mainly. Then moved onto another career in the Payroll Industry. After 4 years of that....I decided to devote all of my time and efforts towards my own career in Real Estate. Anyone that knows me, knows that I always wanted my own business...even when I was little. Now I can give my 110% towards something that I can control (to some degree) and reap any benefits that come along the way. Still no kids...but we are settling into our new lives. My husband and I have learned together (Thank God!) to be goal oriented like we have never been before.
2001 doesn't seem that long ago, but man...has my life changed. With the anniversary of the most tragic event in our country's recent history (if not, ever!) I realize that my life changed..but it was due to my own choices, whereas the victims and their families had their lives ripped away and tossed around and I wouldn't be surprised to hear if many are still trying to pick up the pieces of what was left behind even now. My heart goes out to the wifes, the husbands, the children, the parents, the friends and the survivors. So scary are the thoughts of what those few hours made us all realize:
Be good to the people in your life. Make amends every day. Care about things deeply. Live your life with passion. Fix the wrongs that you come across. Pay attention to your surroundings. Help others. Take nothing for granted...ever. And most of all, tell and show people that they are loved, often.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to add your own 9/11 reflections.