Journal Except: September 11th
With a number of the networks airing their original 9/11 coverage again tomorrow, I thought it would be a fitting year to share my 9/11 journals.
Entry from Journal on 9/11/2001
Reactions and Church
Today is September 11th, 2001. It’s the eight year anniversary of [a negative event in my life]. It’s been so long now. It feels like a dream. It feels like it doesn’t matter anymore.
Tonight I walk my dogs and for the first time in my life I can look up and see the sky my grandparents would have seen growing up.
A sky completely absent of aircraft.
Instead I saw two shooting stars.
The first one I made a wish as custom (or hope) encourages.
I wished, “Please help those people and their families.”
The news didn’t seem all that big to me. When I came into work, I found Jaye Snidow was in. Two evenings ago, he had to rush his wife to the emergency room.
Chris Mullins and Jaye have adjacent desks. Chris was perusing a news web site.
I asked, “Jaye, how’s your wife?”
He said, “She’s doing much better now. She’s home and might be returning to work this afternoon.”
“What happened?!?” I asked in regards to Jaye’s wife.
“A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.” Chris Mullins answered.
I didn’t know what to say to his unsolicited answer.
“Oh…” I said and then redirected my question to Jaye, “What was wrong with your wife?!?”
It just didn’t seem like a big deal. I guess I figured it was like the plane hitting the 14th Street bridge. The bridge is still there and heck people survived that crash.
Then Chris Martz, Larry and I went into the conference room to see Martz’s first training session. Mid-way through we had a technical difficulty. We took a break and when we emerged from the room practically the rest of the company sat and stood in disbelief in front of a TV set in the lunch room.
Everyone was in shock. Andy B’s sunburned face would occassionally turn from the TV with wide eyes– almost looking to others’ reactions for approval. Jaye Snidow stood in silence and periodically shook his head. It was as if he wasn’t allowed to express sorrow or fear so he settled for disgust. Marvin sometimes lowered his head and his fingers would graze over his closed eyelids underneath his glasses. Amy just sat, silent and dumbfounded. At one point, Shane Kennedy grabbed a nearby newspaper ad and started writing. Chris Martz’s usually medium complexion turned pale. He’s supposed to fly out Thursday.
Larry Bowman disappeared for sometime, he even missed lunch. When he returned I asked, “Hey what happened to you?”
“I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to go hug my daughter,” he said.
Stacy sent an email saying he was okay after the plane hit the Pentagon. That affected me a bit. I didn’t even consider he would be harmed. But now that the notion crossed my mind as a possibility (even though Stacy already declared his well being) I wanted Stacy down here. I wanted to see him and I wanted him to get out of that target for good. I’m glad he is okay.
I went to a church service today at St. Mary’s.
It’s funny. I never considered myself as an especially patriotic person. I mean, I love my country and all, but I don’t get all emotional seeing the flag, hearing our anthem, etc.
Today at church the opening hymn was America the Beautiful. When they annonced that, I suddenly got choked up.
I never noticed before but the words to that song are excellent…and reasonable.
I’m mentally and physically and emotionally tired. I think I will go to sleep.
Notes on a Piece of Paper I Wrote at Work on 9/11/2001
Resentment of Life Going On
I am in a meeting, watching Chris Martz debut his … training. My heart beats and my lungs breath.
Meanwhile on the streets of Manhattan, hundreds perhaps thousands, a “horrific” amount says the mayor of New York, of corpses lie buried and crushed under steel and rubble and suffocating grey dust. Under what used to be the World Trade Center.
Here life goes on and we worry about trivial things like password prompts and the loss of love. We have that luxury in our workplace. The people of the Pentagon no longer have that. Instead they have destruction and flames and evacuation to contend with.
But here, life goes on.
Entry from Journal on 9/12/2001
Envy of Dogs and Reading the Passenger List
Tonight I sat on the floor of my bedroom and watched, dumbfounded still, the television reports. Jimmie kept approaching me wanting attention and I kept denying his bid for affection. But he was persistant. Finally I lost my patience and I pushed him far away. He laid down and looked sad. I felt bad. I started to pet him and scratch his chest as he rolled on his back and held up his legs. I laid down next to him and kept petting him on the neck and ears. He looked at me with beautiful brown eyes and I thought:
“How can you explain this to a dog? How can I make him understand?”
Although I still think if they were on the streets of New York, both dogs would feel the same fear as their human counterparts, here, now in Blacksburg, they can’t comprehend the loss and the pain. And for that, I envy them.
At 6 AM this morning, Stench woke me up. This, unfortunately, is becoming a daily ritual. As I stumbled up, I noted the television was silent. I closed in on it — as I always do without vision aids and as I have been finding myself needing to do even with glasses and contacts. The TV was scrolling the names and ages of the people who were on the planes. The silence made it all the more eerie. I found myself uttering, “Oh my gawd” outloud as I watched this list slowly migrate up the screen. [My exclamation] woke Sean up.
Later at work, I read a list on CNN.COM. One flight it looked like a family of three perished… including a 4 year old. A lot of passengers were senior citizens.
How can you look into the eyes of a 4 year old or the precious folded skin of a 77 year old and continue with their demise?
I went to work today. I arrived an hour late. I just couldn’t wake up. Reality deterred me. I even turned off the alarm clock.
I expected the … parking lot to be sparsely populated, even at 10 o’clock– but it appeared I was one of the last to arrive.
On one hand, I think it’s good so many continued on with life. Showing “them” that we are okay and we are going to presevere. Much like what I tried to do eight years ago. Show that we are survivors.
But today, I felt a bit detached. This whole tragedy still doesn’t feel real. I haven’t had time to let it sink in to penetrate me. Every now and then I feel like I should cry, that it would feel better to do so. But I never did.
Those planes crashing into the buildings, all the deaths. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream.
Entry from Journal on 9/13/2001
Silent Lunch, Patriotism and a Free Cookie
Day 3 after the disaster. It still doesn’t feel real. I can close my eyes and see with crisp detail the many images of that second plane colliding into the tower. But still… it feels fabricated.
Today was the 3rd day in a row we ate lunch in near silence. Day 1 we ate in a mob around the small TV set up in [the] lunch room. Yesterday, Larry Bowman, Chris Martz, Bill C and I joined Sean’s regular lunch crew (Sean, John Smith and Colin Wiseley) at Gobblertown. Independently, Tony Airaghi and Lud and two female co-workers showed up there as well. A number of tables were pushed together. We had a very large lunch crowd. So many people, but it was more quiet than a simple lunch of two. We all gawked at the TV set even though the reports never fully satiated our need for information.
Why did this happen? Who really did it? How many people died? What were they like? What were their dreams that will now be unfulfilled? What kind of person did they want to be?
For the 2nd day in a row, I didn’t want to wake up. I managed to force myself and got to work only 15 minutes late…I mean later than usual. Yesterday I was an hour late.
I think part of the problem is we sleep with the news on. Even when we’re sleeping, we are exposed to the terror and loss. I don’t consciously notice anything and I don’t recall any negative dreams, but it can’t be a restful sleep. Like Grandma’s morphine dampened misery the first week in the hospital.
People are displaying American flags everywhere. We have one outside our cubicle wall.
Never since childhood have I coveted a flag so much. I want to purchase one promptly.
All over the news you see the best of human nature evolve from the rubble. Strangers helping strangers, people hugging and crying, everyone wishing each other the best. Those gestures of generosity are so touching.
Tonight I saw a simple act of kindess, hours from the tragedy, right in my own town.
Sean and I went to Sycamore Deli for supper. The owner greeted us promptly.
“How are you?” he said.
“The best you can be under the circumstances,” Sean said and the guy agreed.
A TV perched high up played the news of course.
I’m fond of the Sycamore Deli man. Although he is too young to be mine, he reminds me of an uncle. With his beard and vibrant demeanor, he reminds me of the Uncle Mark’s and the Uncle Timmy’s of my youth. This man is always friendly and upbeat to us. I’m glad we give him our business and I trust his food.
Tonight he rang us up and he said, “I accidently grabbed 3 cookies. You two can split the third.” He glanced up at the TV and noted, “We can all use an extra cookie this week.”
It was such a simple gesture, but its impact on me was astounding. It was so nice of him. Another time I got choked up.
In fact, I was so flustered with gratitude, I said “Thank you” and started to leave.
“Wait, we need our food.” Sean reminded me.
“If you want to pay $16 for a soda and a cookie, that’s fine with me!” the Sycamore Deli man laughed.
He’s a very good man. His business seems frequently empty. I hope it never goes under. I would hate to miss out on what has become a weekly encounter with this man and his great food. Not to mention his awesome chocolate chip (& cinnamon?) cookies.
These cookies are delicious, but I bet this man could have offered us an extra stick of gum and the action would still be as meaningful.
Last night I woke up at 4:30 AM and watched the news for a while before falling back to sleep.
This morning I woke up and the news was still on. I stood close to the TV and squinted to see the dusty cityscape without my glasses. The whole morning and scene was just like yesterday.
I felt like I was in the movie “Groundhog Day.”
Well time for bed.
Entry from Journal on 9/14/2001
Thunderstorm Warnings and Camping
Another day and apparently no rescued survivors.
It’s funny. We now have an advanced weather monitoring system to warn the midwest of an approaching tornado. We have flash flood warnings, hurricane warnings and tropical storm warnings. Heck we even scroll messages during prime time and transmit messages on the Emergency Broadcast System for thunderstorm warnings. Not actual thunderstorms, but the potential of one.
These are acts of nature, acts of God, acts beyond our control. Yet we can give people advanced notice.
But we weren’t able to warn people about objects we built and man.
I’m going camping with Carolyn and Jay tomorrow night. It’s a good weekend to get away from it all and absorb the week’s events. It’s especially a good weekend to spend with family. I look forward to the Sawyer siblings having another adventure… like skiing earlier this year.
Entry from Journal on 9/17/2001
Marquee Mottos and Memorial Service
Tomorrow it will be a week from the attack. It’s amazing. I look around at America. What I see is remarkably similiar to my life eight years ago.
Everywhere fast food marquees declare inspirational messages:
“We Will Overcome”
These are the same messages I told myself. How frightened I was of forgetting … That notion seened like the worst thing that could ever happen.
Not it seems like nothing. “So what?” I think. I even venture to feel it isn’t part of my life anymore.
Another frequent marquee sign:
“God Bless America”
America has grown close to religion again as I did this time eight years ago.
There are some gas stations or restaurants that don’t have messages of significance. Just annoncing the specials. Then there is the Western Sizzler by work. It went for a combination:
“God Bless America.
11 ounce sirloin $6.95”
On Friday Bowman and I went to the conference room to observe the moment of silence with our co-workers. We ended up watching a service at the National Cathedral for 45 minutes.
I stood the entire time. I really don’t see why but my legs started quivering. I can run 2 miles, but I can’t stand for 45 minutes?
I kept thinking about sitting down, but then I remembered some wisdom from a choir director or CCD teacher. She was responding to one of my peer’s complaints that kneeling was uncomfortable.
“Jesus died on the cross for you and you can’t even kneel for a few minutes? Do you think hanging on a cross is comfortable?”
I think about that a lot when religion and discomfort are together.
Entry filed under: 9/11, Andy B, Chris M, Chris M, Colin W, Jaye S, Jimmie, John Smith, Journal Excerpt, Larry Bowman, Lud Eng, Sean, September 11th, Stacy McMahon, Stench, Sycamore Deli, Tony Airaghi.