I remember that day. I was in my car listening to the Country Western Channel having just dropped my daughter off at work. I had driven to a local Five and Ten store after that because I would be starting a new teaching assignment on the 24th and had a lot to do to prepare myself.
I'm a Special Ed teacher. I have a Master Degree in Special Education and a Teacher of the Handicapped License. I had almost finished up my Bachelor's Degree earning a dual degree in Psychology and Sociology when I'd found myself substitute teaching in a classroom run by my mentor Bill Riches.
Bill taught children with Down Syndrome and in learning from him I found my calling, so back to school I went, determined to be the caring, brilliant teacher Bill showed me I could possibly become
Bill had been in a car accident the week before September 11th...a bad one. The school brought in a substitute teacher, but Bill was not coming back and by law they can only keep a sub for three weeks. I was their choice and Bill's to step in and become his replacement.
I remember feeling happy trawling and sad through the construction paper, glue and safety scissors. I was on top of the world about having my classroom and saddened I got it from my friend's tragedy. Till, with Bill's tacit approval, I could not imagine how my world could be more perfect. I'd be filling the shoes of the man I so admired.
I paid for my purchases, left the store, climbed back into my car, turned the key and heard the two morning show hosts talking weird stuff about a plane just flying into the World Trade Center in New York. I waited for the punch line certain it was a joke. Those two told some of the most outrageous stories. I waited. No punchline came. I waited some more. They repeated it. I got pissed. Okay, let's hear the punchline. By now I am home, and not the least happy with them for telling a sick joke and not getting to the punchline.
Up into my apartment I trudge, unloaded my things, flipped on the TV and had the air literally knocked out of my lungs as they showed the second plane fly into the Towers. Unsteadily, I sink to the hassock, my body beginning to tremble, my eyes wide, my mouth gaping, my hands shaking. What the hell? This can NOT be happening?
I am frozen, unable to move, my eyes beginning to fill. I can't take it in. People begin jumping from the upper levels of the Towers choosing that death to the incinerating death speeding their way.
My thoughts turn to my children. My daughter is safe, but my son worked just this side of the river. Was he safe? No one could tell how far from Ground Zero the destruction had spread.
With fingers cold with fear, I punched in my Son's cell phone number and nothing...no signal, no ring, no voice mail. Oh Dear God! NO!
Glued to the set I watch hell unfold before my eyes. Tears that I was not even aware I was crying were streaming down my face, and I wasn't even sure whom I was crying for...my son whom I would not reach until the next day, or the multitude of ravaged faces, covered in ash frantically looking for their owned loved ones in that mayhem?
I was a zombie when I had to drive to pick my daughter back up, but when I looked upon her approaching face, my eyes shut very tightly and I sent up a prayer of thanks to My God for sparing this beautiful child who is the very air that fills my lungs and an equally heartfelt one for all those who would not be embracing their beloved heartbeat's core when the dust settled long after this night turned into history's nightmare.
My son it seems had been safely on this side of the bridge, but rather than heading safely south, he crossed the bridge and forged his way into the devastation determined to help all that he could. I did not hear from him until 6:15 P.M. the following night when he could finally get a signal on his cell phone to call me. Once more I felt my knees wobble and had to thrust myself down onto that same hassock that had born my stunned body the day before.
Nine years have now passed...yet not a single emotion has been forgotten...and I still tear up and mourn our Country's loss of innocence, and the nightmarish vision of seeing those desperate souls leaping to their death as the Towers burned around them.
FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS