Sunday, September 11, 2011

My September 11th Story

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was working as a French teacher at a Washington, DC area private school. I was in my office prepping for my first class when a wave of nausea hit me. I ran across the hall to the bathroom just in time to vomit up my entire breakfast. I was six weeks pregnant and the ‘morning sickness’ that I had heard about but had yet to experience had finally arrived. Ugh! I thought to myself as I rinsed my mouth with water from the hallway fountain, this is going to be a long day. I looked at my watch, it was 8:51. When I returned to my office, a colleague of mine said, very matter of factly; “a plane just hit the World Trade Center in New York city.” When I heard this, to be honest, my first reaction was not panic. I assumed that the plane was a small Cessna, flown by some moron who thought he was a pilot after taking ten flying lessons. It was a mistake. It had to be. There is no way an experienced pilot would ever make such a horrible miscalculation and fly into a huge skyscraper. It wasn’t until twelve minutes later, when the second plane hit, that I realized the crashes were intentional. Over the next forty minutes, I wandered in and out of the school library, watching the events unfold and questioning just what the hell was going on. Then, at 9:40 am, the events of September 11th reached out and grabbed hold of my heart, wrenched it, and nearly stopped it. The local news interrupted the broadcast to show a photo of the Pentagon in flames. They reported a plane had just crashed into it. I gasped. My husband, a Captain in the Airforce, had a meeting that very morning at the Pentagon. “Just wanna let you know,” he whispered in my ear, early that morning. “I won’t be in the office this morning. I have a meeting at the Pentagon.” I ran out of the library and back to my office where I picked up the phone and frantically dialed his number. I got a reorder signal. I tried his cell phone. No network. I felt woozy and grabbed hold of my desk for support. The next two hours were an unbelievable roller coaster ride of emotions which I hope to never experience again. There were unconfirmed reports of a bomb going off at the State Department and a second plane crashing into the Pentagon. I had no phone service but my email was working and I frantically responded to panicked inquiries by family and friends the world over asking if my husband was alright. I responded to all of them the same way. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Finally, the call came that I had been waiting for: my husband telling me he was okay. “It’s going to take me awhile to get home,” he informed me. “They have shut down the metro, so I’m gonna have to walk.” I waited anxiously on the steps of our townhome and was ecstatic to see his tall, lanky frame come into view as he walked across the street. As he approached me on the stairs, he dropped to his knees, lifted up my blouse and planted a kiss on my belly. “I’m glad you two are okay,” he said. “I love you,” I said. “I know,” he responded, Han Solo style. Always a joker, that man.

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