|In Memory of the Victims of 911.|
I remember tucking the kids in on the Sunday night prior to 911 and being shocked when my oldest son (then 10 years old) asked me what would happen if a really big plane ever hit a really big building killing lots of people. I asked him where he ever got such an idea and that that would NEVER happen in a million years. After talking to him for a while I managed to settle him down and he finally went to sleep. The following day as I picked him up from school I stopped in the office to pick up my mail (I was the Parent Council Chair at the time) and to talk to the school secretary for a while. We talked for several minutes and somehow the previous night's conversation with my son came up. We both agreed that I should perhaps monitor what movies he was watching and left it at that.
Tuesday morning came as it always did. I was at work by 7 am and working on my register. It was busy that morning and by 8:30 I could not wait for my break as I desperately needed a coffee but I knew it would still be a while before I could go. A co worker of mine approached a while later and asked me if I had heard the news. Of course I had no idea what he was talking about. He told him he heard that a plane may have gone down in Central Park but he wasn't sure. I told him he must be mistaken. As I counted the minutes to my break the news hit as customers began discussing a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Not connecting the Twin Towers at that moment with the World Trade Center my only thought was to gt to the lunchroom and see what the hell was going on. I walked in just in time to watch a plane hit that second tower and to see the first one fall. I was in total shock. I watched those towers being built. As a child, my father often took us to see the progress of construction of the Twin Towers and now I was watching them go down. It all felt so surreal to me.
My boss approached me and asked if I was ok. At some point I guess I began crying. I looked at him and said I still had family living in New York and some worked downtown. He told me his brother had a shop near there and he had been trying to call him but he couldn't get through. I thought of my kids - how would I explain this to them? And then my mind did a replay of Sunday nights conversation with my son. How would he take this? I had assured him it could never happen less than 48 hours before. Would he ever trust me again?
I ran to the phone and called his school. The secretary had been waiting for my call. I was screeching as I begged her not to let anyone tell him what had happened - I needed to do it. It was just a coincidence. These things don't happen. She had already had him pulled out of class and he was in with the principal. It was too late - he had already heard the news but seemed fairly calm. She informed me they were contacting parents and encouraging them to pick up their children early if possible. Downtown Toronto was being evacuated as well as the news of more planes hitting various parts of the U.S broke. I told her I was on my way.
When I arrived at the school I was shocked to see some bright person had place a T.V. airing the coverage of the disaster in the main hallway. Parents, teachers and students were gathered around watching. People were crying, hugging and some were praying openly. Special grief councilors were brought in that afternoon and for the next week to talk to the children and their families as well as to school administrators and maintenance staff. My son declined to see one in spite of my urging.
As I left the school with my children I thought of my family and my friends and prayed they were safe. I called my parents who had been trying to get through to New York for hours. I attempted to call my Aunt and was lucky to get though to a cousin. I asked if all was okay and she told me her father was unaccounted for. Her mother had dropped him off at the subway to downtown about 8:30 and no one had heard from him since. It was now 4 pm. I later learned he walked home that day - it took him 14 hours to get to Yonkers but he was safe.
The following days were the worst. The eerie silence of the lack of planes in the night air is one I never want to hear again. I slept in my son's room for several nights after that. I think it was more for me than for him as I feared that was truly the beginning of the end of the world...