Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seven Years

7 years ago tomorrow changed my life and changed the world. It started ordinary enough. Hubby was up and out early to drive his sister to school. I stayed cuddled in bed with a new 2 month old bebe #2. Postpartum depression had been eerily invading my space and mind this time 'round. I was thankful for the quiet morning spent dozing off with a sweet cherub in my arms.

Then hubby comes hurling back through the bedroom. "You've gotta come see this." I knew it was serious. He had heard it on the radio and then we watched it unfold right there on t.v. Then to see the 2nd plane, there was no more question. We were under attack. It was not an accident. My blood pressure spiked, my mind is spinning. I have a 2 year old and new baby, we have no basement. Where will we hide and take cover? I'm checking off things in my head, water, food, diapers, batteries, radio, flash lights, guns...and no I'm not joking. We are country folk and I was in over drive to prepare and protect my family. I had never so much appreciated living in the middle of nowhere. Maybe we'd be spared.

We ran a restaurant at this time. We decided several hours later to go ahead and get ourselves together and open the restaurant for the day back in town. It was a ghost town. Hardly any one was out. We were all ready, on guard. The stories coming from ground zero were paralyzing. Searching and finding, hoping for life, praying for a miracle. Soot, ash and debris held the nation's attention.
Hubby was particularly affected. Being a fire fighter...he knows the sounds. Yes- sounds. When they started playing the video tapes from hand held amateurs...the sounds are what made it almost unbearable. Sure as if the sight of it all wasn't enough. After the towers came down and they rolled through the streets, the sound that was heard was the CRY of the SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus.) Any fire fighter, or any one who has even trained or anything with the fire department knows that on the back of the SCBAs are PALs. These are special little devices that squeal after a certain time has elapsed without movement. It helps to locate firemen in a fire who can't find their way out. It signals a fire fighter down. But here, this time, there was a CHORUS of PALs crying. Not a few...there were hundreds...thousands...and no movement...just ash.
The family phone tree started to take action as phone circuits allowed. We had not lost anyone. Where I lack in siblings, I make up for it in cousins. One cousin had a gig planned in one of the towers later that night. Another cousin (different side of the family) had taking the sub to his stop below the south tower just an hour before the first plane hit. We were lucky. As a whole, as a county we were devastated, but our little family was ok.
I didn't sleep well. Even with the grounding of all commercial planes, I still stayed awake to see if I could hear one...that might be THEM. Then I'd drift off to sleep, just to be startled awake by a government plane making rounds above.

The President's speech challenged all Americans to find a fire fighter and thank them for their service. Hubby turned to his step dad, and his step dad to him, and they said thank you, through tears (man one) to one another. The next day back at the restaurant it was slow. People were really on edge and quiet and contemplative. I was just barely keeping it together. A man came and placed a to-go order with hubby. It was very usual. He was an older gentleman with weathered, leathered skin. When hubby went to hand him the change, the man looked up at him and then looked at hubby's shirt. He had on his fire department shirt. The man took his change and took hold of hubby's hand in one motion:

Man: You a fire fighter?

Hubby: Yes, Sir. I am.

Man: Thank you, son.

All this while holding his hand firmly and looking him right in the eye. God bless America. What a beautiful, beautiful moment. Now we got the big alligator tears out of these men.
I take this night and I pray relentlessly for all of those who lost a loved one, or were injured. I pray for those who were pregnant and lost their husbands. Those sweet babies that never knew their heroic daddies. I pray thankfully for the flight attendants whose quick thinking identified the perpetrators. And the valiant passengers who fought back. I pray for all the medical and fire personnel who ran UP the hundreds of flights of stairs to save the victims, just to be brought down by another airplane and the building caving in.

Tomorrow will be a somber, thoughtful, reflective day. May I take all these emotions and memories and let the little things be little, and be thankful for the rest.

No comments: