Sunday was the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I have a friend from New York who lost several friends. Her Mom lived in New York on the day of this tragedy. We attended a 9/11 memorial together last year and I held her while she cried. I asked her to open her heart to share her experience with me and with this blogging audience. She very graciously agreed, but her name will not be given here, for the sake of privacy. I will tell you that there is a reference in this story to someone named Eddie. He is her husband. The following is her story:
I was getting ready for my Tuesday morning class at SWT and had the TV on...as the reports started in....I tried to sit on the bed but slid off and collapsed on the floor. I watched in horror as the second plane hit...I tried and tried to get a hold of my mom, my brothers, my friends, anyone ( I grew up just north of the city and most of my friends had at least one parent that worked there, many friends had moved into the city for school or work, and although my mom did not work in the city, she was supposed to be there that Tuesday delivering legal documents for the lawyer she worked for) I called and cried and called and cried all morning. I obviously blew off my classes because if I did get a hold of my mom soon, I was going to get in the car and just drive north. An hour or so later I was able to get a hold of my sister in Florida, she couldn't get a hold of mom either. I sat in front of my TV all day in shock and terror. Sarah, my sister, called again and mom was okay, she had not gone into the city as planned, but all the cell lines were jammed up so it was hard to get calls in or out. She also told me of a friend of ours that called her while running across the bridge, he was coughing and said he was covered in dirt, ash, and just the crap in the air....he couldn't get any other number to work in the city so he called her not knowing what else to do. Chris, this friend, has not been the same since. A few numb days went by....I put up as many American flags as I could....I didn't know what else to do....I couldn't go home, there were no flights to be had. Then I got a call from my friend Brooke, her dad is a fire fighter in the Bronx. They had not heard from him in a day or two....they did right after, but he was working right there on the rescue. (since then he started drinking, a lot...it nearly killed him. The family and his house helped him, he no longer drinks, but he also had to take a desk job. He is a different person now too) she Lao told me about our friend Shelley. Shelley worked with Canter Fitzgerald, and she never made it out. Shelley was gone. All she ever wanted was to get married and have a family, and she did not get to do either. That Sunday I went to church, alone, and cried all the way through the service. Near the end of the service, a large man I did not know came over to me and said "you look like you could use a hug" I melted in his arms and sobbed. (that man years later sponsored me on my walk to Emmaus) a few more days passed, I still couldn't bring myself to go to class...I just sat ALL day in front of the TV. Eddie thought I was going over board, but did not know what to say to me either. Then about a week later I got another call. Another friend, who was supposed to be on the other side of the city has been missing. He was a carpenter and that morning when he went in to work, he was sent to the roof of one of the twin towers because someone else called in sick. He wasn't even supposed to be there and no one realized he was missing, everyone thought he just got caught up in the aftermath that was the city with no phone service and difficulty getting around. For months his girlfriend left his shoes right by their front door, just expecting one day he would walk in and change out of his work boots. This is what I lived with for the following weeks, never knowing if I was going to get another call about another friend, or another fire fighter father (I have several more friends like that) I went back to class, but was such a mess I nearly failed my classes, and I was a 4.0 student.
Then Eddie started to get it a little bit as his dear friends from West Point were getting deployed. So now we were both waiting by the phone, dying a little every time it rang. We lost a few more friends, and even more were changed so much they could nearly be counted as lost....that is how they were living anyway.
Over the years, our country has become complacent. Some people don't even think about it, except for someone else reminding them. Me, I still cry every 9/11 I still pray silently in the morning. I still wonder what Shelley's children would have looked like. Also know that much good has come from the tragedy. Brooke's dad is home more nights than he ever was before. There are more charities for fallen fire fighters than ever before. Shelley's parents have made an annual golf charity event to donate all proceeds to the fire fighters. The carpenter, Chris, has a new park named for him in our old neighborhood.
So there is my story for now...as more time passes, I hope the hurt to not be so deep, but I also pray that I never forget, never become complacent, so that I can be thankful everyday for my family and friends. I am not afraid to tell my friends that I love them.
copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins