Sunday, September 11, 2011


On September 11, 2001 I was woken up early in the morning by a phone call--I want to say it was a little before 6:30 am. At the time I was a "single" mom of a 4 1/2 year old and 2 year old, my husband was still playing baseball. The team de jour was The Kansas City Royals.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not an early riser :) I remember thinking "who in the heck is calling me this early?" I let it ring, rolled over, and tried to go back to sleep. But something bugged me. What if it was my husband calling with an emergency? He was in KC that day, the Royals were playing the Indians.

Half-asleep I listened to the voicemail. It was my mom--obviously upset. I just remember her saying something along the lines of, "Don't worry, I'm okay. I'm at Logan airport and they're turning us around. The airport's shut down."

Wondering what she was talking about, I tried to go back to sleep. But then the phone rang again. This time it was my sister in a panic. She was up early to return to work after maternity leave and was watching the news, knowing our mom was flying out of Logan that morning. I quickly connected the dots and told her mom had left a message, and she was okay. Together we watched in horror as the events unfolded. The images are jumbled in my mind by all that I've seen subsequently, but I'll never forget watching the first tower come down. Later I would discover that it had been hit by a plane my mom might have been on.

My mom was at Boston Logan airport that morning to fly home after visiting my aunt and was turned around by airport authorities when word of what was happening spread. But had my sister not found a babysitter, she would have been on an earlier flight--UA flight 175.

My sister and her husband are both doctors. As I mentioned, she was returning to work after maternity leave with a 4 1/2 year old and 3 month old. There was a childcare snafu, and my mom was going to take an earlier flight out of Boston and connect through LA to SFO. But at the last minute, my sister found someone and my mom kept her original flight for later that morning.

That's how things seemed to happen that day, isn't it? One person stays home or goes in late for a doctors appointment or sick child and escapes death, another person doesn't. No rhyme or reason, just a quirk of fate.

That to me was one of the hardest things about that day. Trying to find an answer for why. We like to think of reasons why something happened, but what that day made clear for me in such a hideously massive scale is that there weren't any reasons. That was the true horror and unfairness. The randomness of it all. The utter injustice. My family way lucky, so many others were not.

There were so many stories that came out of that day. Some of heroism. Some of tragedy. Some of survival. Some of heartbreak. And many of hope. The people who fought back on Flight 93--it still gives me chills. I'm sure we were all remember where we were on 9-11, as the previous generation remembered the death's of JFK and MLK. It's a day that will live on in our collective consciousness. We are all connected in some way to the tragedy of that day. But my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in the two towers, the Pentagon, and on a field in Pennsylvania. We honor you today. I hope that ten years has brought a measure of peace.

And in case I don't say it enough, I love you mom.

How did the events of that day change you? What were you doing when you heard what had happened? Ironically, my mom was one of the last people to know what had happened as she spent the day in travel chaos trying to get back to my aunt's house.