I live on the West Coast. At about 6:30 or so on the morning ofSeptember 11th, I was awakened by the television. Since I work graveyardshift, opening my eyes before 9 A.M. just doesn't happen--even on the days Idon't work.
I tried to go back to sleep, and I almost succeeded. However, I heardthat a plane crashed into a building in New York. I wondered, "Am Idreaming?" I opened my eyes and saw that CNN was playing an instant replayof a plane crashing into a very tall building. I thought, "Wow, what aterrible thing! How could this have happened?" They played it over andover again. CNN was showing the first tower on fire, when all the sudden asecond plane hit the second tower. I saw it live, as it was happening!
I thought an air traffic controller must have fallen asleep. Icontinued to watch in absolute horror. I woke my children, so they couldsee these events as they were happening. I don't know why. I thinksomething inside me understood that this was important. This was somethingthat we as a family needed to witness together.
I am an Emergency Room nurse. I have been in the ER for 9 years.
For as long as I can remember, my 8-year-old son has been telling thekids in school that I was an ER doctor. I would try to explain to himthat, no honey, I was not a doctor, I am a nurse. All he knew was that Idid CPR and people lived. The kids in the neighborhood that fell down andscraped their knees, he brought them to me. I "saved their life." I fixthe bad stuff that happens to people.
So when his big, giant, sterling blue eyes looked up at me the morningof September 11th and said, "Mom, can you fix them?", I knew what I had todo.
I got on that plane, filled with emergency personnel (only thosecredentialed could fly) without a clue about what was going to happen. Theplane was silent. A plane full of people and not a word was spoken. Itwas absolutely quiet. We were intent on making it right. I suspect thatwe all had the same intention--to "fix them." As it turned out, it tookme three days to get from Nevada to Manhattan.
After about a thousand checkpoints, we got on a Red Cross shuttle intolower Manhattan. I had never been to New York, so I didn't have a cluewhat it was like to be around that many people! There were people liningthe streets at least 100 deep for miles and miles! They were crying,touching our bus, begging us to stop so they could tell us about theirhusband or wife, crying for us to look for the people that were soimportant to them.
I was reminded of my beautiful son and his innocent words thatSeptember 11th morning. This huge throng of people desperately pastedposters of their families on the side of our shuttle as we went by. Somecheered us. There were cameras--lots of them. That was the first time Icried. That was the first time I understood what really happened to ournation.
This was big. In that moment, we died--and we lived. The people ofNew York came with offers of places to stay for us and water. Then therestaurants began bringing food. The people of New York brought food forthe dogs sniffing for the dead. It became a nationwide effort and then itsnowballed into a worldwide effort. We mobilized and made it work! We gotthe job done.
No, we will never be what we were before September 11th. Ourinnocence is gone. I suspect September 11th will always hurt. It willprobably hurt in many ways that we don't even know about. But, the peopleof the United States of America are survivors. We make our own way. Wealways have and we always will.
Just ask my son.