Remembering 9/11

Avalon:Twin Towers“Avalon” – Newport Marina, NJ – September 1998 – Hours before the tornado winds slapped us down in the Atlantic Inlet this photo was taken… giving me the only personal photo I have of the Twin Towers. (Which I cherish…)

Everything about this photo has eerie meaning. I am thankful all worked out for us on that notorious Labor Day sailing ‘adventure’- and understatement, I wish the towers didn’t hold the horrific memories they do today.  My prayers to all those effected by 9/11.  So much pain and sorrow…

Charlee asked me – for a class homework assignment – about my experience that morning…  

I was home… with my 2 month old (Charlee)… after just getting my 5 year old (Alex) off to school… Frank called to tell me to turn on the TV that a plane had crashed into one of the buildings in Manhattan.  I didn’t have to turn the TV on to start begging him to COME HOME NOW!  I knew… right then and there I knew there was no way that was an accident!  He hung up, not ready to agree with me… a few minutes later I tried to call him back. The second plane had already hit. He did not answer….

My brother-in-law, Marc, called from Florida to try to check on us… All I could tell him was that I spoke to Frank after the first plane had hit and as far as I knew he was okay… Then, my brother-in-law, Tony showed up.  He didn’t bother knocking.  Just walked in my front door and headed straight towards me… and I crumpled in his arms crying… I had no answers.

I teetered between supportive calls – whether from or to – my mother and step-father, my father and step-mother, my sisters, my friends… all hoping and praying – trying to sound upbeat and positive that Frank was going to be all right… their obvious veiled attempt at confidence. Clearly so many were already not all right…

It felt like forever, but Frank finally called back, “Okay, I’m not sure what’s going on… I have to figure out how to get out of here…” He and the rest of his coworkers had been watching the horrors unfold from the 11th floor pressroom window. They all heard the second plane pass their building very close and very low… evident by the ominous earful that shook the walls.  People ran back and forth between windows, television updates, radio announcements, and to the fire escapes turned observation decks… the decision to shut the plant down was made.  Everyone was sent home.

We came up with the best, and only, plan we could.  Frank just had to get out of the city any way he could. Tony left once he knew Frank was okay, just needing to navigate home.  He had his own family to attend to…

I spent the day juggling children, waiting by the phone for the next step from Frank, glued to the TV… It was hours before I heard from him again. (agonizing hours… as I did not feel this was the end of the attack – trains/subways were a huge concern… and I knew that – regardless of my begging – Frank would try them first…) {Yup he did, but Penn Station was completely shut down… go figure.  He also tried to buy a scooter, but none of the credit card machines were working and the store owner would only accept cash…}

Trilon, the printing company he was working at, was located in Chelsea… He had to walk from 21st and 6th Avenue, up to the 59th Street Bridge, over to Queens Blvd… all the way to Woodhaven Blvd!  It was dark by the time he found a working pay phone… though having tried several phones along the way.  Walking the entire day, and most of the way home, we were finally able to connect and pinpoint a viable pickup location.  I loaded the kids in the car and started driving.  As I passed JFK there was an overturned vehicle on the opposite side of the road, with the driver and passengers still inside…. a few people were trying to help, but there were no cops or emergency vehicles to be seen… very unnerving, complete chaos, no way to stop if you wanted to… rules of the road out the window!  It felt like a war zone. There was nothing I could do, especially with a 2 month old and 5 year old (who was thankfully sleeping) in tow.  I cried for those people… prayed for those people… still feel guilt to this day..…..

When I finally got to Frank, he was withered and drained.  Sweaty and pale. The streets were basically barren, so spotting this lone lumbering man was easy… The first bottle of water I handed him he drank completely without stopping. The second he half drank and poured the rest over his head.

Watching the smoke emanate from the Manhattan skyline was surreal. The hilltop by Daly Blvd. and Lawson Blvd. provided an all too clear view.

Once home, Frank began preparing “Avalon” in case we had to make a watery escape. (Though we fought about bridge openings… and that whole ‘where-the-hell-would-we-go-?!’ thing.)

I hate that my children have to have this as a homework assignment!  I hate that anyone has to log this into any history book!!  My heart aches for every name being read at today’s memorial service… the tearful plea’s to spirits that left too soon.  For every broken family… for every broken heart… I pray……….