"I was in that gauzy
dream state, pale and evanescent, just the way I like it before
I ease into awakedness, when my husband, DH, roused me. In
a stricken, but quiet tone, he said, "Something bad's
I recognized the
tone, the same one when he broke the news to me, ten years
earlier, that we had lost our best buddy, Wayne, to a first and
fatal heart attack.
I stared hard into his
face. I saw that same deep concern and maybe more. I snapped myself awake.
I'm on my feet,
suddenly aware of a serious and urgent voice on the television in the
family room. I rush to follow DH. In silence, we stand
transfixed on an image
of a skyscraper with heart-stopping,
billowing plumes of black
smoke against a backdrop of clear blue skies.
Not knowing what the
heck is happening, I am
momentarily frustrated and impatient. My eyes are taking it all
in; my mind is frantically trying to make sense of it: That's New York
City. A skyscraper. On fire.
Lots of smoke.
This is live. In real time.
This is actually happening RIGHT NOW.
I am still baffled,
my mind is a jumble of rapid-fire thoughts: People inside. Trapped
like rats! Hurting. Fire. Burning. Scenes from Backdraft,
the movie, flash by. A fireman's worst nightmare.
"A plane hit the World Trade Center," says
getting me up to speed. We're standing in front of the
television, watching the live images, hand in hand; feet, bare.
manage to ask: "What happened?"
Before DH has a
chance to answer, to the right of the screen comes another
plane. It's headed toward the other tower.
Crash. A burst of fire. Swallowed up whole by the
tower. Smoke and debris.
I gasp at
the horrific images: "Oh my Gawwwwwd!" Those people in the plane, in the tower.
Alive, one second ago. Now gone. Incinerated. Gone.
The realization that
this is no accident smacks me hard. One plane hitting the
tower is an accident. Two, this is no
"This is like a
movie," says DH. I nod in agreement. This is
surreal. I am disbelieving.
A terrorist attack.
This is INCOMPREHENSIBLE. I too have the sense that I'm
watching a movie. A woozy, surreal one. Like The
War of the Worlds.
Images of Leslie Neilsen in
pilot attire then flash through my mind, followed by comical terrorist
scenes from Airplane! I'm not laughing.
This real-time "movie" is not
I grant myself the
luxury of three seconds of feeling terrorized. After being
momentarily immobilized, I collect myself. Though I
feel helpless, I can pray for those trapped in the towers. I dispatch a quick prayer:
"Take care of them."
I then learn that
the Pentagon has been hit by yet another plane. Three
planes down. Pentagon hit. The World Trade Center
hit. Another plane, unaccounted for, headed for Los
Angeles. The movie, Air
Force One with Harrison Ford as President, pops into mind.
I snap back into
reality, however much I'd love for it to be a movie. My hackles
are raised, and I react with
anger and wonderment: "Darn them! Who could have that
much hate to do this? And WHY?! What could possibly explain what's
I experience a massive
collision of emotions of sadness, disgust, despair, shock, and
anger. From that jumble, it is vulnerability that I feel
most. I feel exposed. Exposed to great harm. I
ask. No, I beg: God, help us. We need you."
get back my answer: "Be
prepared." Yes, You got it. God helps those who
help themselves. Nothing's changed.
I telepath: "I'll do my part; You do
Yours. Thanks." The next
instant, my mind is churning, thinking of possibilities,
implications, and ramifications.
The vulnerability of
our water supply comes to mind. I turn to my
husband, "Okay, DH. Get down to the store. Now.
Pick up water. Canned goods. Lots of water."
puts on a
pair of long pants. As he rushes out the door, I kiss him,
thinking that maybe this is goodbye for good. I look him straight in the eye: "If there is any danger out
there, come back. Do NOT risk your life. Is that
He nods, hugs me
once more, and he's off. The open-all-night supermarket is
down the street, just a minute or two away. I'm
envisioning a run on supplies. Clambering chaos, even.
Another prayer, another one-liner: "Protect."
meantime, with one ear on the news reports and the other for DH's return, I fill up every water receptacle in the house
and both bathtubs. I then take a quick inventory of our already
stocked disaster-preparedness supplies. We are prepared,
or so we think.
bottled water and canned provisions. He was gone for
minutes. They felt like hours."No one was
I mutter, "What are
immobilized friends and neighbors, glued to their sets. In
shock. Unprepared. Almost annoyed, I think: "Don't
they know, in any emergency, water
is key to survival!
re-rivet our eyes back to the television. I update DH.
Plane to LA still unaccounted for. And
then, in horror, we watch the first tower
transition. Innocent people. Loved ones. Family members.
Killed. Dying. Terrified. Suffering.
I am beyond
mortification. Groping for words to describe what I am
feeling, I find there are none. This is simply beyond the pale.
fail, the analytical mind fills in, assessing the results:
"Give credit where credit is due. That is one
masterpiece of a terrorist act. Felling the tower.
Zombie-like, I get
ready for work, as I listen intently to the news. I
decide, "I will suck it up, pull it together. I will keep
on keeping on." We have a substantial breakfast, one
that will fortify us, just in case...
The second tower
falls. Another prayer for wayshowing help for
I'm not expecting
anyone to show up at work, given the enormity of the
events. But if anyone does, I'll be there. I'll drive my
car instead of being dropped off by DH on the way to his work, a
half-hour away, just in case I need to get home in a
hurry. Two miles in an emergency is a long way to hoof it
Before I leave, I
check to see that the bathroom doors are open. The furkids
may need access to water, just in case we don't make it home.
hug the furkids and give them a treat apiece, and resolutely
and yes, bravely, march out into a dangerous new world.
On this September morning, the world has changed, but I will
remain true. I will be of help, not harm, remembering "...the Light is what the darkness most fears".
I can. I will. I must.
At work, today, one of my
co-workers mentioned that these events
may be part of a grand
conspiratorial plan. He's convinced it is an inside
Google brought up a
slew of conspiracy theory articles. Hmmm....paranoids?
P.T. Barnums? Or do they know something we
don't? 85% trash; 15% ... buried truth? Note:
these are not for the faint-hearted, skeptics, bah-hogwashers, or
those who disdain mind-bending.
Lurking just beneath the calm, composed surface,
I am dealing with elemental, conflicting passions: love and hate, anger and pain, fear and
hope, grief and joy.
I remembered that
there is only one lesson I have yet to fully
learn: The only lesson is love.