Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11-01 Memories

September 11, 2001 was already a weird, tense day before the planes ever left the ground. For me it was, anyway. After 20 years of staying home to school my children and keep my home, I was headed out to find a job. All summer my husband had been getting sicker and sicker, and no matter how many doctors I took him to, nobody could figure out what was going on. After a summer of trying to spend all my time taking care of him and preparing myself for whatever we might be about to face, I finally knew I had to go to work. I was sick myself, at the thought of leaving him alone and untended, but if I could bring some money in, it would at least be one less worry for him. (It would be a year before we got the diagnosis of encephalitis due to a virus similar to West Nile, and 2 years before he could even begin to think about returning to work).

So I went to one interview, along with a little orientation. I tried to pay attention, but I was thinking of my husband, and also of my robust grandfather, who'd been taken suddenly ill the day before. Finally it was time to head to my second interview at an attorney's office. It was a bit of a drive, so I turned the radio to the Christian station and set out. But the Christian station seemed to be doing some sort of skit or something out of the ordinary. They played a little music, then broke in and said a plane had hit the World Trade Tower. Then shortly after that, they spoke of a second plane. I thought they were doing a take off on "War of the Worlds," possibly trying to show people what it would be like if the end of the world came and they weren't spiritually ready, and I was quite indignant. It seemed irresponsible to frighten people that way. I was looking out the window at everyone going about life as usual, nobody seeming distressed in any way. When the third interruption came on, saying a plane had hit the Pentagon, I'd had it. It suddenly occurred to me that if I changed the channel, I could find out if there was any thing to it. I adjusted the dial, fully expecting the other channels to be calmly playing music. But of course that wasn't the case, and I tried to absorb the reports I was now hearing on every channel I hit. By the time I reached the attorney's office, I was shaking. I watched a lady walking her dog, a man doing landscaping work in the median, cars coming and going. Finally, I dialed my cell phone to see what my husband had heard. He'd been trying to relax and was unaware of anything happening. I told him to turn on the t.v. because we were under attack. He couldn't imagine what I could mean, but he flipped on the t.v. and in a very subdued voice, said "Oh, no," and I knew it was true. I told him I'd be home as soon as I could, and it was then he told me he'd just gotten a call that my grandfather had died that morning.

I went in to the interview with eyes full of tears and a head so muddled I couldn't even remember my social security number, flubbed a test I was given, and stumbled through the interview. Finally I could head home. But on the way, I passed the Red Cross office and decided to go in and donate blood. It was a madhouse, and for the first time I could see footage on the little t.v. in the waiting room. After way too long for my nerves, I was called in, but my blood pressure was so high by then that they wouldn't let me give blood after all. I headed home and in to the arms of my husband and sons. I got a phone call letting me know I had gotten the first job, at an insurance adjuster's office, and I would begin the next day, so I just had to put everything going on in my life in to little compartments in my head and learn a new job to support my family. I didn't really have time to process anything. No one in the family could fly to Grandpa's funeral, or even have flowers sent, due to the planes all being grounded. But I had a picture in my head of my Grandpa, bustling about in Heaven greeting all the new arrivals, the way he did at church, with a smile, a handshake, and a warm, friendly word.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh my, it must have taken you a long time to adjust from all those shocks coming at once. I'm so sorry you weren't able to go to your grandfather's funeral.

I hope your husband is doing much better now.

Cherdecor said...

Well, you certainly will not forget that day, for sure! That same week I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was a year for trials. The West Nile virus is scary stuff. Here in Lancaster they have a stock yard and mosquitoes having West Nile have been found there twice now. They are making them clean up the place.

jenniferw said...

Tracie, thanks for gathering your thoughts and taking the time to write this. What an amazing story. I know God gave you strength beyond what you could have expected that day.

Merle said...

Dear Rosezilla ~~ What a terrible day for you beside the terrible attacks on
the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I am sure your grandfather would understand why you couldn't go to his funeral.
Glad you got the first job, you would have had no chance at the second.Not with all those things happening. Well done on getting through it all, my friend.Thanks for your comments and I am glad you enjoyed the Grocery story and jokes. I wonder if that store lady
deliberately helped your Mom. Those
prices were certainly good in the 60s
Take care, Love, Merle.
I wonder if that store lady deliberately helped your Mom

steviewren said...

Wow...I'm glad it is seven years later and things are better for your family.

daffy said...

This is wonderfully written and very moving.
It's always amazes me how we cope and learn through adversity. You have strength.

thedailydish said...

What a beautiful, moving story. Thank you for it, Tracie. xo

Sara said...

This was a very touching story of your experiences on that horrible day. Thank you for sharing them. I am happy to note your husband eventually improved and it seems you have moved on from there to where you can look back and remember from a less shaky place in your life.

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