Friday, September 11, 2009

Running Late

I hate being late! I have always hated it. Being late causes PTS symptoms for me as I had to sit, sometimes for hours, waiting for my mother to come pick us up. It causes me a ton of stress now when getting 6 people out the door in time for anything almost never happens. I was reading my friend Matt's blog and felt I needed to respond to his question "Where were you when?"

That morning, I took Kenny's car to school. I was running late, the whole family was running late. Kenny put Chris on the bus and walked to the train. Chris's bus was late too and Kenny missed his usual train. This was one of those mornings that I hated dealing with. Everyone needed things at the last minute, homework signed, notes for things, lunch money, help finding shoes, and some random item that needed to be purchased from an obscure store but was volunteered and promised in good faith to a teacher but not disclosed until 5 minutes before departure. As I was driving to school I remember thinking that I should call Kenny and ask him if he wants to take his car into the city. I was late already so what would another 5 minutes be to turn around and switch cars, but I didn't.

I arrived at school and settled into a color theory lesson with sixth graders. It was somewhere in the middle of that lesson that I was interrupted by the principal who decided it was necessary to announce with a very monotone voice that there had been a plane crash into the towers. I remember thinking how surreal that announcement was. Surely she was talking about a small plane? I tried to call Kenny to see what was going on. No answer. The principal announced again that a second AIRLINER had crashed into the other tower...and I lost my composure. I needed to know that Kenny was not beneath the towers getting off the train. I called again, no answer.

At some point I was ushered into a small TV studio, I watched in horror as the towers collapsed. I distinctly remember just before this happened Katie Couric saying that people didn't seem to concerned on the ground, that traffic was still moving, people were still walking...I remember being nauseated, lightheaded, and needing to leave school. I called Kenny, no answer.

I left school and learned of the whole scope of the morning on the radio. I was scared. I thought we were going to be plunged into a war on our soil. I wanted my kids, and I wanted my husband, and I wanted to be together in one place.

I arrived home to the phone ringing, it was Andrea, an engineer at Kenny's firm. She wanted to tell me that she had managed to get a hold of Kenny and that he was OK. He never made it out of Grand Central. He had missed the last train downtown by minutes. He was trying to get home.

I called the HS that Justin was a Freshman at and let them know that his father was OK. They would happily relay that message. He had been watching this unfold too in his Social Studies class, sitting next to his best friend who found out that his father died by watching a TV broadcast in school. Justin was traumatized.

I called the other schools, all of which agreed to pass on the information if they needed to, they were much more guarded with the news. Dan and Mary came up and got me. We waited at they're house until Kenny made it home. Kenny finally made it home at 4 or so. Thank God we were running late that morning!

For the next 6 months, we dealt with Kenny being gone days at a time to help with the logistics of the clean-up and my brother and brother-in-law dealing with the 12-12 schedule and being on site to oversee the Con-Ed crews at Ground Zero. Not much was is still painful to talk about.

The health problems have not surfaced, though to tell you the truth, they are always on the back burner. Kenny came down with pneumonia 2x in the 2 months following 9/11his doctor thought that he might have cancer. Thank God that it was just the exhaustion and stress that caused him to be run down and get sick. His health has been tracked.

If you really want to know how I feel about the experience, read Art Spiegelman's "In the Shadow of No Towers" (Pantheon,2004) you will capture some of it. I remember last year getting into a conversation with my friend Arnie about the day, and hearing his story of having a 3rd grader in a lower Manhattan School, picking her up and walking home with the heat and the rumble of the collapse noticably at his back, the whole time trying to prevent his daughter from looking back. It still hurts.

So Kenny, I really do hope you enjoy that cigar today, I love you and would be lost without you!

1 comment:

ken said...

love you too Babe