Everyone in the USA (and possibly the world over) is musing on what they were doing 5 years ago today.
Just before 9 AM EDT, 5 years ago today, I was getting ready for school. I had a part-time job teaching Spanish to first- and second-graders. I was in the kitchen making my Big Cup of Tea, since I was expecting Little Brother at the time, and I was trying not to drink too much coffee. An hour earlier I had put the Big Kids on the school bus. It was a beautiful, clear day; the sky was blue, the breeze was cool. My husband called and told me to turn on the TV, because a plane had just hit the World Trade Center.
I grew up watching those towers get built. In the part of North Jersey where I was raised, you could see the Towers from all over. More than once, Dad took us kids to a place where we could see across the river and look at the towers-under-construction. And one time, my husband took me to New York where we visited the observation deck of one of the Towers and then walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
I turned on the kitchen radio, which receives local TV signals, and listened to the tragedy beginning….I listened as the second plane hit the other tower. And then, in shock, I had to go to school and meet four classes of little children for the first time.
As a traveling teacher, I had a small office in the library. Of course the library TV was turned on, and teachers were in and out of there all morning. We watched horrified as the Towers burned and then fell. Most of us were crying.
The principal came in and instructed all the teachers not to say anything to the students. He felt that in a K-2 building, news like this didn’t belong in school–it was the parents’ job to talk to their children about it first. While I completely agreed with that, it was unbelievably hard to put on a happy face and meet 100 children and act like nothing was wrong, when all day long parents were showing up at school to pick up their kids. All day long, I wanted to get my kids. In my last class of the day, at least 7 children had been taken home; when I called roll, the others would say, “He went home sick.” None of them thought it was weird that so many children had “gone home sick” that day.
I found my husband already at home when I got there, because his office had decided to close for the day. Together we waited for the Big Kids to come home, and we talked together about what had happened that day. My husband was glued to the news all day. I was trying to escape the news all day. At dinnertime we went out and got pizza, so we could get out of the house for a little while. Then we went over to our church. That’s where we wanted to be. Apparently a lot of people did–but not the Pastor-at-the-Time, because there was a notice on the church door that if anyone wanted to attend an evening Mass, they should go to the other church across town. Our parish did not schedule evening Masses, but we thought something might be going on there. As there wasn’t, we headed across town and attended Mass in the church that would become our parish for the next 4 years.
My husband still follows the path of airplanes in the sky and startles when he thinks they are on an unusual route. When we get off the New Jersey Turnpike at exit 12 to visit his parents, we still expect to see the Towers in the skyline. The flag still hangs on our front door, as it has since that day.
But I count my family as some of the lucky ones. We lost a building that has some memories attached to it. We lost our sense of security. That’s all we lost. So many other people lost lives, spouses, children, friends, neighbors.
For all the victims and heroes of 9/11:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.