Friday, September 11, 2009

My 9/11--A Story in Emails

What follows is a post from my old blog in 2006. Weirdly, for no reason I can think of, I've never talked about 9/11 here. It's weird because of how much Em remembers, and how we talk about it at home all the time...on the anniversary, and sometimes at other moments as well.

This is one part of my family's 9/11 story. Most of the rest of it is a blur of breastfeeding, rocking, soothing and playing with an infant N, trying to keep it together for him.


My 9/11 was different from that of so many other people's, because while it began in fear and anguish, the personal component of it, which was paramount in my mind, ultimately ended happily. It wasn't until many days, if not weeks, later that I began to think more globally about it all.

The only thing you need to know when you read this is that Em was just a few days past her fourth birthday, and on a trip back east with her daddy while N--who was not even nine months old--and I stayed at home. These are the emails I sent to some of my mommies' mailing lists.]

-------
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, 8:13 am PDT/11:13 am EDT

Subject: update on us

A quickie, because obviously all heck has broken loose.

Baroy and Em were at Kennedy when the attack began this morning, but
weren't on any of the pertinent airplanes. They are currently trying to
figure out how to get out of the airport and to a place in Queens where my
mother can pick them up--apparently they're not letting traffic into the
airport, though they told everyone that they can indeed get out of the
airport. On what, I don't know. So it's wait and see on how they make it to
my folks' house, but rest assured they're OK.

Looking for updates from all other DC/NY moms...

TC, who just wants her husband and her baby girl home

*******
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, 9:37 am PDT/12:37 pm EDT

Subject: safe for now

Baroy and Em are at my parents' house. I can sort of breathe again. I
hope everyone else has similarly happy endings today. Thanks for all the
thoughts...I'm thinking of all of you on the east coast, and especially
those of you in New York.

Hugs,
a very shaken TC

*******
Thursday, September 13, 2001

Subject: update, such that it is

Since people have asked...

No flights out today. Baroy finally got through to United just a few minutes ago, and they have a definite confirmed flight out on Saturday afternoon. Thank goodness. And they're on a waiting list or whatever for two flights tomorrow. No standbys allowed right now.

I am so on the edge of losing it, but hearing that there is an end in sight has really, really helped. I'm worried about Em, who won't allow Baroy out of her sight. I'm trying to get something set up for her for early next week so that she can be seen/evaluated by a psychologist. I have a feeling we're going to have some separation anxiety issues...

Last night on the phone, I asked her if there was anything she wanted to talk to me about.

"I'm worried," she said.

"What are you worried about?"

"I'm worried about the men who crashed the planes into the buildings. It makes me sad."

"It makes me sad, too, honey."

"And I'm worried about you, Mommy."

"You don't need to be worried about me. I'm fine."

"I'm worried that I can't see you."

And this morning, I was trying to prepare her for the fact that although they were going to the airport, they probably wouldn't be coming home.

"But if I never come home, I'll never see you again." And she started crying, and I couldn't calm her down. The more I talked, the more she cried...

Sigh. One more little piece of collateral damage.

TC

*******
Friday, September 14, 2001, 12:15 pm PDT/3:15 pm EDT

Subject: on a plane

Em and Baroy are on United Flight 897, waiting to take off, as I type. Please keep them in your thoughts over the next six or so hours, that they will arrive safely.

Baroy said they had to do a body search of every passenger, no exceptions. Em protested, so they made it into a game. Now I suppose we're going to have to explain the "nobody can touch your private parts unless there are terrorist attacks and you need to let them so you can get on an airplane" rule.

Hopefully, this is the end of it for us, and now I can concentrate on worrying about my brother-in-law (my stepsister's husband) who is an NYC cop on the front lines right now and spent most of last night at the morgue. ;-( (And who, apparently, would have been among those buried in the collapse had he not had a doctor's appointment in the Bronx Tuesday morning, and who is now mourning the loss of most of his fellow polic officers from his unit...)

TC, heart in her throat

*******
Friday, September 14, 2001, 9:31 pm PDT/12:31 am EDT

Subject: home, safe

Thanks for all the good wishes. Em seems fine, Baroy seems very, very
tired. I'm off to take care of both of them, and couldn't be happier.

Talk to you all when I resurface.

********
Saturday, September 15, 2001

Subject: Re: Plane in LA

>I just checked the United Airlines website and it looks like Baroy and
>Em are home in Los Angeles. I know I am breathing easier.
>
>Sending a big hug to TC and her family!!

Not only were you right, Deb, but it turns out that they were the first plane to leave JFK since Tuesday. Everyone had been telling Baroy to just stay put at my mom's house and keep calling the airlines, and that it was ridiculous that he was insisting on going to the airport, etc., etc., etc., and now he is totally full of himself because, of course, he was right to go. Their plane was only half full, he said, and when they touched down, the passengers broke into spontaneous applause.

Apparently, by the way, a Newsday reporter was watching when Em was being searched and Baroy made it into a game. (And yes, it was just a very close wand search.) She was on assignment--her assignment being to fly on some of the first planes out of various airports, and she interviewed Baroy for over an hour during the flight. So, for those of you in New York who get Newsday, could you keep an eye out for me for whatever article they might be mentioned in?

Also, it seems Em was the talk of the airplane. When they were waiting at baggage claim, one of the women from the plane came up to Baroy and was telling him how everyone had been commenting on how amazingly good that little girl had been, especially considering the tension of all the adults around her, and even moreso because she hadn't been allowed to take very much on the airplane with her...just a few Barbie dolls in a case. No books, no crayons, no scissors, etc. I'm really proud of my girl.

5 comments:

Meg said...

Wow, thanks for sharing. I can imagine Em's memories - probably some of her earliest. How incredibly frightening to be at the airport during the event. My cousin was a broker at Cantor and unfortunately did not make it out. Another friend was scheduled to fly to Russia that day to meet her adopted son - luckily, she only had to wait a few days but how incredibly scary it was for her to fly.

I can't believe it has been 8 years. The memorial reading of the names still was undertaken in NYC, but much less focus. Certainly, stopping to remember and be thankful for what we have is a tribute to all that died that day.

Niksmom said...

My husband's best friend is NYPD and was in charge of one of the morgues. I remember seeing him two years later and thinking how much the experience had aged him.

I can't even begin to imagine how I would've reacted if I'd had a child then...let alone one 3,000 miles away from me and in the middle of the terror. God bless Baroy for his calm and perserverence and Em for her sweet spirit that must have touched so many around her on their flight.

po said...

I always think of Baroy and Em when I think of 9/11, esp. the part in which she wanted to go to the bathroom and they couldn't go back into the terminal. I know how in light of all the tragedy that took place that day, it's odd that that is the thing I always think of, but it brings tears to my eyes every single time. Like now.

goodfountain said...

That must have been very terrifying for you ... I'm sure you just wanted them HOME!!!

Thanks for sharing this!

TC said...

Po, that's the part that always brings tears to my eyes, too. It's silly, like you said, but I can still hear Baroy telling me, with his voice cracking, about how he had to force her to put on one of her nighttime diapers because he couldn't get her to a bathroom, and she cried and cried and said, "I don't want to put on a diaper. I'm a big girl!"

I think when you're faced with tragedies that are this big, something small like this is manageable, and becomes emblematic. At least that's what I tell myself...