Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Were You?

Today is the day. You see it on Facebook. You hear it in conversation. At the park. On the street. At the office.  Where were you when the planes hit?

Over the last 12 years, we talk about it every year on September 11th.  Where were you?  We don't ask, "Do you remember?"  We just ask, "Where were you?"

I didn't know my husband at the time, but he was in the hospital, waking up from surgery, when he looked at the TV to see the second plane hit.  His mom was at the hospital with him and told him what was happening.  He was in a daze, from the meds and from reality.

I was at my home office, troubleshooting an issue that occurred that morning with an airline fare sale.  At that time I worked for a technology company that powered United Airlines website.  I handled the loading of the weekly fare specials.  It was a Tuesday morning, and it was my weekly responsibility to ensure the fares went in correctly.  That morning, they didn't, and due to the criticality of getting them corrected, I stayed home to work and did not turn on radio or TV.

The phone rang.  It was my boss. The first thing he said was, "Are you watching the news?" My response was, "No, we have an issue with the fares". He said, "Put the TV on."

I saw the second plane hit.

From that moment, my stomach went hollow and tears came, as they still do while writing this. The next thing I remember was driving to my office at United Airlines, where I was scheduled for meetings and such.  On that drive, I would pass through O'Hare airport on my way to the office.  There was a deafening silence that morning as planes had been grounded.  I was so used to watching the planes coming in and taking off while driving by the airport.  That morning there were none.

I arrived at the office.  All meetings were cancelled.  All promotions were cancelled. All ads were taken down from the website.  We were in mourning.  My stomach was still hollow.

After a half day of putting things in order for an airline in mourning, I was sent home.

I remember speaking on the phone with my brother that afternoon.  We both felt the same feeling. An emptiness and numbness we had only known one other time, when our own mom passed away. It is a sadness that never goes away, no matter how many years pass.

Where were you?

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