It was Tuesday morning and I was taking my time getting to the office. Aiden, one year old at the time, was sitting at the table, finishing up his breakfast. Christy, pregnant with Alyson, was in the bedroom and I thought she was asleep.
When the Today Show returned from break, I heard Matt Lauer say something about a live shot of the World Trade Center and how a plane had crashed into it.
I thought it was hardly audible, but apparently it wasn’t. Christy came bursting out of the bedroom asking, “What? What happened?”
Like many people, I just thought it was some type of small, private plane. But the image of the gaping hole with smoke billowing out of it was haunting. Then the news began to trickle out. This was no small, private plane. It was an airliner.
Was it some freak accident? A horrible coincidence? I tried to convince myself that this was anything but the elephant in the room.
I turned away for a moment and let Aiden out of his high chair. I heard Christy gasp and then a voice on the Today Show say that a second plane had just hit the Tower.
I joined so many people around the country and watched in shock as we watched the smoke pour out of the World Trade Center, desperately hoping that the first-responders would be able to rescue as many people as possible.
Then the unthinkable happened. The first building fell. And the second. All that remained in the skyline was a pillar of dust and smoke.
I was speechless.
Christy finally managed to say, “We just watched all of those people die!”
No, I reassured her. Surely they got everyone that they could out of those buildings. Initial guesstimates were that tens of thousands of people could have perished in the terrorist attacks that day. Horrifying.
My heart was full of pain, anger, and disbelief. The world was in chaos. Two more planes had gone down. How many more? We sat in the Living Room, wondering what else was going to happen. And why didn’t they get more of those people out of the towers? Why did they have to park the ambulances so close to Ground Zero?
I felt so powerless.
Then something happened that I will never, ever forget. Aiden came running into our room. In the midst of all of this chaos and terror, he was screeching with joy as he pushed his corn-popper toy. I wanted to grab him, hold him, and say to him, “Aiden, don’t you realize what’s going on here? Don’t you know what’s happening?” But I didn’t. I knew he wouldn’t understand.
In the midst of all of this chaos, fear, and anger, I watched joy and innocence as my boy ran through the house with his corn-popper with such glee.
And I wished I could have that innocence again.
What about you? Where were you? What’s your story?