No Replacements, No Returns
It was a typical morning. Chugged coffee. Traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Racing for my train, and missing it. Catching a nap on the next train to New York City.
Suddenly, a passenger began to sob, and everything changed forever.
She'd gotten a cell phone call a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, where she worked. The tower was on fire.
You know the rest.
Things became more surreal on the train that morning as time went on the only contact with the world came through our cell phones, and one person's radio. People spoke aloud, to share with the rest of us, as the news came in: news about the Pentagon, hijacked planes, fires.
As we got closer to the city, we could see the World Trade Center from our train windows black smoke from the tops trailing across the sky. Fifteen minutes later, we were turned back Manhattan had been completely closed off. We'd heard that the Towers had gone down. Headed back to Long Island, noses against windows, we waited to see for ourselves. And then a simultaneous gasp of horror. It was true. There was nothing left but a big cloud of smoke.
Eventually, I got home, hugged my husband, and started taking and making phone calls. Everyone wanted to know if I was okay my little sister even called on a cell phone from Joshua Tree. Less welcome news began to come in friends' cousins were missing, friends of friends were gone, and no one had any answers.
They still don't.
I'm back at work today it's 4:40pm, and I have been hearing sirens since I got into the city this morning. Throughout Manhattan are reminders of the missing missing people, missing buildings, missing sense of normalcy and security. Everything feels surreal, unreal, and nerves are jumpy rightfully so, as reports of building evacuations and bomb threats come in, out, and in again.
I'm reminded of 1975, when LaGuardia airport was bombed. I was seven, and my family was driving past Forest Hills, Queens, when the radio announced that a bomb had gone off. My parents looked grim. I think my little sisters started to cry. Everyone was nervous then. There were bomb threats all the time my mother even broke her ankle running out of a concert hall during a scare. My father worked in Manhattan, and my sisters and I, scared, used to pray every night that he'd come home safe.
My family is now praying for me, for my safe return each day. And out of all the frightening events, out of everything that's happened, I find that the most frightening of all.