Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You?

I had a really busy, productive weekend, but on this 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it seems trite to recount my shopping prowess or my weekend antics. So today I will just write what I remember about 5 years ago today.

I was driving to work. It was sunny, warm, and had all the makings of a beautiful pre-fall day. I don't remember what I was thinking about but most likely, I was consumed with the preparations for my wedding which was just 18 days away.

While sitting in morning rush hour traffic, listening to the local news/talk station, they reported that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York City. At this time they thought it was an accident. Pilot error. They hadn't broke into national news coverage yet. I got to work, went about my normal morning routine, and turned the radio on as was my practice.

One of my co-workers came in to chat with me as he usually would. We talked about the plane crash and other news items of the day, and he asked about the wedding plans. As we were chatting, another co-worker came in and said a second plane had crashed into the other tower and that they were saying it was no accident.

I was working as the office administrator for an insurance company at this time. Tuesdays were our usual day for an all staff meeting. There was always a sales tape they needed to watch so a TV was on hand. One of the agents turned on the TV and as the staff arrived for the meeting, they gathered in the main area of our office to watch the events unfold on TV.

I will never forget the footage showing people leaping and/or falling from those buildings. We were all numb. No one said anything. We just watched with stares of the unbelieving. Not believing this was happening. How could this happen?

The big bosses showed up for the meeting and while all the agents were reluctant to leave the meeting, the bosses said this doesn't change anything. Yet we all felt it changed everything. How could we go on with business as usual when the world was falling apart? The bosses seemed so callous. They acted as if what was happening in New York was happening in Israel or Pakistan. Yet it wasn't. It was happening here. It's bad enough when it happens there and God forgive us for turning a blind eye to the attrocities that happen anywhere but here.

Just before the meeting, we got a call from the home office in Chicago. They were located in the World Trade Center there and were evacuating. They told us that since they were shutting down, we should shut down. I think we were all relieved. Well, everyone except the bosses, that is. They were incensed that the home office was closing. We would lose business! There was money to be made! But they didn't argue (much) and sent everyone home.

I drove home in a daze. When I got home I turned on the TV and sat glassy eyed in front of it...not really seeing anything. I called Bob. I woke him up. I told him to turn on the TV and explained what was happening. He sobbed. We worried about his sister and her family who had just arrived in Hawaii for a dream vacation they had saved years for. We wondered if they would be stranded. I wondered out loud how this would affect the wedding in a little over two weeks. There was talk of not only closing airports and air travel but interstate travel as well. We had invited over 200 people to our wedding. All of my family was out of state.

I don't remember much more about that day. Just sitting in the recliner watching the TV. I don't remember when things got back to normal. I do know that our family was not stranded in Hawaii and that we had a lovely wedding with all of our family and friends. I also know that we felt so honored and privileged to be among our family and friends when so many others had lost those most precious to them.

For better or for worse the events of 9/11 will always be linked to our wedding anniversary. It was 5 years ago today that those towers fell and all those people died. In 18 days Bob and I will have been married for 5 years. Two complete different and separate events that will always be linked in time because they happened in September.

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