Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Day the World Changed

I do not wake up the first time the alarm goes off. Never have.

Once the alarm went off, I grabbed the remote to the TV and turned on the news. Then just rolled over and went back to sleep. I had a horrible dream about a plane crashing the World Trade Center in NY. And then a bomb went off in the garage basement. Was Lisa ok? I Can't find Lisa!!! Mary?? Where are they?

In frantic desperation, I woke myself up. Oh, it was a dream. Ok, time to get up. It was weird, though, I hadn't thought about Lisa and Mary, who worked in the WTC for awhile. I remember the panic I felt when the WTC garage was bombed a few years before. But, that was jsut a yucky memory creeping back up, I guess.

J was in the shower, and the kids weren't up yet. I looked over at hte TV and saw that the rest wasn't a dream. A plane had crashed onto the WTC. An accident. WOW! I yelled for J to get out and come watch the TV. We sat and watched as news unfolded. Being a pilot, he was trying to reconcile how this could happen -- airspace, flight plans, VOR's and whatever. It didn't make any sense.

Then, the second plane hit and we knew. We knew this was way worse than anything we could have ever imagined.

I tried to think of anyone I knew that would be flying today from work. Everyone was in town that I could recall.

Then the first tower fell. I distnctly remember feeling like the wind got knoced out of me. It just didn't make sense. We sat glued to the TV and I cried. J was in a state of shock. We wanted to grab the kids, but they were old enough to understand what they were seeing, and we didn't want them to be a part of this just yet. Not til we understood. How can you understand something like this?

Then the second tower fell. It really seemed like life itself came to a halt. I was paralyzed and just couldn't think. We flipped station to station to see if what they were saying was really true. Like someone would announce "Its just a joke, War of the Worlds all over again". Nothing. Every station struggled to get infomation, everyone seemed incredulous as to what was unfolding.

I finally had to get up an get to work. I threw my hair up in a clip, grabbed what I could and just drove. I still don't remember the drive. I didn't even put on makeup.

At the time, I Was the Director of CS for a cable company. We had TV's throughout our department on adn runnign all the time. I knew my staff would be in shock. We all were. I arrived and found my morning crew in tears. They were huddled around the TV's and watching what was unfolding.

We immediately cancelled all rebuild for the day that were cause service outages. We knew that people would want to be able to watch what was unfolding.

The senior staff gathered and sat in the conference room watching the TV waiting for our CEO to arrive. When he did, he looked haggard. Frankly, we all had the look of shell shock, but his was different.

We discovered that his brother-in-law worked at the Pentagon. No one had been able to reach him at that point, but his wife had confirned he had gone to work, and was due to be there all day.

So, we sat, watched, comforted and prayed. We actually all held hands and our CEO prayed. ALthough I was the only female in the room, I was not the only one who cried.

Hours later, we learned his brother-in-law was safe - hurt doing rescue - but safe.

The rest of the day was spent just tlkaing people thorugh one moment at the time. Phones were slow, so we rotated people as they needed to talk, cry, walk around or whatever. It was triage for days after, really.

The hardest part what talking to my kids about what had happened. we had kept them home that day, and John called in to be with them. We kept them away from the TV as much as possible to prevent overload with them. We knew that if we couldn't process what had happened, that it would be impossible. Regardless, J had nightmares for weeks, and started sleeping with us again. K did, too, for quite awhile - and it was fine.

It was a time that we all needed to feel safe, cocooned in the love of family.

Within 24 hours, our town was decked in flags. Cars, businesses, homes, fences ... everywhere.

The kids asked that we go to the Candlelight Vigil one night, and we did. Hundreds of people lined the main street in town with flags, candles, signs of support - they prayed, sang God Bless America over and over.

It was an amazing show of solidarity that we would survive.

God Bless America
Land that I Love
Stand Beside Her
and Guide Her
Through the Night
WIth a Light From Above.

From the Mountains
To the Prairies
To The Ocean
White with Foam.

God Bless America
My Home Sweet Home.


Blogger momrn2 said...

I too found it difficult to know exactly what to say to my children. They were 4 and 5 at the time.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Kelli, thanks for sharing your memories. What an awful, incredible day...we truly will never forget!

My tribute to 9/11 victim Jean Hoadley Peterson is up on my blog...visit when you get a moment.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Blessed Beyond Measure said...

Thank you for sharing your day with us. Very moving. You described how I felt, the little I watched.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Barb said...

You know, this is the first time I've ever asked myself how I would have handled this with my girls had they been younger. They were both away at college. But if they had been, say 8 or 9, how would I have filtered this down to something they could understand without being terrified. I couldn't even process it myself.

What a horrible day. Days and days really. After 10 days I had to stop watching it all day long.

Reading so many people's memories today makes it seem like it happened last week.

8:37 PM  

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