I am in Golden, Colorado, so we’re on Mountain Time–two hours earlier than NYC. I start work at a high school at 7 a.m. I am pulling into the parking lot just before that, listening to Christian radio. They stop the broadcast for a special bulletin: A plane has hit one of the World Trade Centers in New York City. They say a prayer. I pray too, with them, but I am picture a small plane…an accident.
I go into the teacher’s lounge and everyone looks concerned. The t.v. is on. I look up and there it is…the first crash. Then the second. I freeze.
I grew up on Staten Island (the first 27 years of my life) and worked on the 80th floor of 1 WTC in the early ’80s. My family is there.
The first tower falls. Then the second. I begin to cry. The Pentagon has been struck. Another crash in Pennsylvania. My family is there. Many friends and their families work in the city. I cannot call home. The phone lines are closed. My first reaction is to leave and grab my children from their school and go home. I stay with my students. All we do all day is watch the news in every class. I am called into various classrooms to talk about what NYC is like, and the Towers, my feelings as a native New Yorker, etc. We act calm for the kids. They don’t quite get it, most of them. Many parents come and take their children home. I meet mine at their school at 3:00. They are young and don’t understand enough to be frightened…until my 7-year-old daughter learns her dance studio is closed because of this. Then she knows something serious has happened and she clings to me.
I can’t stop watching the news and the replays (I watch them into the early morning hours…I cannot sleep). My mother calls that evening–thank God–and my family is fine. The next two days are filled with calls to friends and family. A couple of men I went to Sunday school with as a child were firefighters. They are gone. An old friend from years back…a talented musician and joyful person and, from reports, wonderful husband and dad–gone. I think anyone from NYC knew someone who knew someone. The stories come in one by one.
We hold a prayer vigil that night in our church. I kneel at the alter and weep in a way I didn’t know I could. On and on. A week later we lead a candlelight march through the city. We sing. We tell stories…
That’s how it was here in Golden, CO for me.