Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Do you remember where you were on 911?

This excerpt is from the novel: Opening A Registered Nurse's Eyes; A Life Altering Journey Across North America
By Susan Frances Bonner

When we left Montana we headed south towards New Mexico. Again, scheduling either Four Wheel drive/camping trips or shoots. Our route took us back to our friends in Colorado and we stayed with them for two weeks again. I was so grateful to be there the day the World Trade Center was blown up. And just like everyone else in this great country of ours, I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when it happened.

The first thing I remember was being woken up from a sound sleep by my friend and host early that morning. He was standing in the middle of the spare bedroom in his underwear. He was getting ready for work when the first plane hit. I thought he was trying to play some kind of practical joke on us or something. But he was too frantic and practically in tears. We got up and ran downstairs and watched the TV footage just as the second plane hit. My first thoughts went to my family back in New York. I needed to talk to my mother now! I ran and dialed the number and she answered after the first ring.

“Mom, are you ok?” I asked.
“Who is this?” she asked back.
“It’s your eldest daughter Mom, are you and Dad ok?” I was getting really concerned. She obviously didn’t recognize my voice. And that never ever happened before.
“How did you get through the line, honey?” she asked. “The phone has been dead for over an hour.”
I was stunned into silence for a second. “It was God, Mom. I said. “God put me through.” Then I started to cry.

We were all crying by that time. My mom told me they were fine and wanted me to call my sisters to tell them she and my dad were ok because she didn’t know how long the phone lines would work. I promised to do that and hung up. I was so worried about them even though they lived pretty far outside the City because of the density of the population. A catastrophe in that dense an area usually affects everyone for miles and miles around. While I was calling my sisters, we were informed of the other planes and their disastrous outcomes. It felt like I had been shot in the chest. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. We’re under attack! I thought. Someone was trying to take over the United States of America! Where the hell was our military? Someone tell me our President is safe! Why aren’t I on my homestead! Why aren’t I with my family! What are we going to do now! Who’s going to help us?

Some of these thoughts I said out loud, some of them I didn’t. I kept staring at the TV like some deranged voyeur, not wanting to see more but not wanting to miss a thing. And as I watched in horror I came to the very real, very frightening realization that there were no safe havens anywhere, that the concept of being “safe” was just an illusion. No one could protect you but you. Here we were the strongest country in the world, with the best military force and we were under attack! People were dying in the streets all around us. Not only at this moment but everyday. The police tried their best, but they were mostly there to pick up the pieces, just as the military and rescue workers were doing right now, all after the fact. That revelation changed my outlook on life forever.

My friends and I hugged and cried and hugged. We walked back and forth from the living room to the kitchen trying to get a handle on it all. The only dry eye and level head in the house belonged to my husband. Even though most of the people he had worked with as a Paramedic were probably at the scene, either dead already or fighting for their lives. He was the voice of reason through the whole thing and helped calm us down. I guess it was easier the second time around. See, he was a New York City Paramedic when the Twin Towers were bombed the first time, in 1993. Why that wasn’t a wake up call for our country I’ll never know.

Even though we calmed after the initial shock, we walked around like Zombies for the next few days, tears threatening to well up in our eyes at any moment. The TV was kept on 24/7, along with the radio. It was like a form of self-torture. I felt grief, shock, guilt and anger, all the emotions that come with a being a victim of a disaster. And even though the actual disaster happened in a few select places, every person in the United States felt like it happened to them. I know I did. And everyone I talked to did as well. Those fateful words, “One Nation Under God” never rang as true as it did that day.