Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago

Utah Dad and I were sleeping in that morning. Utah Dad didn’t have to be to work until 11 o’clock. Neal was just three months old and he had woken up, nursed and gone back to sleep in between us in the bed. The phone rang and since it was on my side of the bed, I answered it. It was Randy’s dad. He asked if we were watching the news. I said no. He told me to turn it on immediately and then he was gone. We had our little old TV in our bedroom then. Utah Dad turned it on and of course we saw live feed from New York City. The second airplane had already struck the buildings, so it was obvious that it wasn’t just an accident. We watched in silent horror. I remember calling my dad. He was at work and didn’t have access to television, but he was listening to the news from somewhere—internet or radio, I don’t know for sure. I was on the phone with him when the first tower fell. I described it to him as it happened. It seemed to me like watching the demolition guys implode an old building. Utah Dad and I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Our horror turned to grief and fear. I cried. I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would do such a thing.

I drove Utah Dad to work in Dover. We listened to the radio all the way. The reporters on the radio seemed to be in panic mode. They were reporting downed airplanes all over the country. We were really scared by then. After I dropped Utah Dad off at work, I drove home in a daze. I can still remember driving up the Spaulding in a thick corridor of trees, listening to the radio and wondering just what was going on.

Neal and I went home and watched the continuous news coverage for the rest of the day. I was glued to the television.

Neal and I went to Relief Society Homemaking that night. It seemed strange—like I was walking around in a dream. Most people seemed too normal. No one really mentioned the events in the morning and I wondered if I was the only one who even knew it had happened. Maybe it was just a dream.

As the days went on and more and more about the events were discovered, Utah Dad and I were dismayed to learn that some of the terrorists had spent the previous night in Portland, Maine. They had driven on the same roads that we frequently drove on. They had passed through our state on their way to Boston to fly out of the airport we frequently used.

Thank goodness, no one we knew was really intimately affected by the tragedy. We had a friend in Cambridge whose husband was flying from Boston to Los Angeles that day. She had several terrifying hours until her husband was able to let her know that he was all right—his flight had been diverted to Detroit. Utah Dad had friends from Chatham, New Jersey who were affected. Some of their lives were miraculously saved that day. But we mourned anyway. We mourned with those who lost family members and we mourned for our country and we mourned for our lost innocence.

Because they traveled extensively for work, I called my friends at Measured Progress, where I had worked, to make sure everyone was safe. They were. One team was grounded in Utah, where they had been working. The men and women rented cars and raced across the country to get home.

Neal and I spent our days watching the continuous coverage. We were proud of President Bush and Mayor Guilliani. We were proud of the people on the United Flight who stood up and saved people while sacrificing their own lives. We were proud of the heroic fire fighters and police officers. We were proud of all the Americans who donated and who rushed to volunteer.

I felt a strong need to be in contact with my family during this period of time. I talked to my mom on the phone at least once a day.

The following Saturday, was really our first day to get out and face the real world again. In some ways, I felt like there was no way we could get back to real life. Another part of me was anxious to return to real life—to prove to the terrorists that their plot to scare me had failed. We dressed Neal in his America t-shirt and enjoyed the perfect autumn weather in New England.

We had another decision to make. We had plans for Neal and me to fly to Utah on September 17th—one week and a day later. We were nervous. For one thing, we weren’t sure the airlines would even be flying yet—they had been grounded. Then, it was announced that the airlines would begin flying again on the 16th. I was anxious to go visit family in Utah. We decided that I should fly. As planned, Utah Dad would join us the next week.

Utah Dad drove Neal and me to the Boston airport the morning of our flight. The airport was surprisingly empty. We watched the armed National Guard walking around the terminal. They were doing extra checks on luggage. I noticed that one old lady had her aerosol hairspray can confiscated. The man at the check-in counter was very kind and even suggested that I take Neal’s car seat on the plane even though I hadn’t purchased him a seat. Once we were on board, it was apparent why. The plane was nearly empty. I was flying on America West to Phoenix and then to Salt Lake City. An older couple boarded the plane but just before we were to leave the terminal they had to get off. He apologized to the flight attendants but said that he just couldn’t fly yet. They were understanding and helped him. Neal and I had our own row during the flight and I was very relieved that he was such a good baby. Several people commented about how good he was after the flight.

The events of that day were very influential on my feelings about moving back to Utah. I loved New Hampshire and wasn’t sure I wanted to leave. But I didn’t like being so disconnected from family and the safety net they provide.

It was a day that effected every person and I will never forget it.


Suey said...

Wow... scary to fly so soon afterwards.

Laura@livingabigstory said...

I remember Doc got a call from the Institute Director (he was a seminary teacher) asking him to fix a computer issue. Doc said that he couldn't come in because we'd been attacked. The man's response, "Oh, when can you?" We were stunned but realized later he probably just had no idea what had happened.

The first time I flew after 9/11 I cried during the first minutes on the flight.