" /> A Small Victory: September 2001 Archives

« June 2001 | Main | October 2001 »

September 10, 2001

Another Day

5:35 AM
I keep waking up with the vague sense that something is wrong, and then I remember. Something is wrong. So many things are wrong. My dreams have been a hyrbid of fear and loathing and sadness, sometimes feeling worse than the real thing. Either way, it's a nightmare. Yesterday, DJ came home from school and said they talked about the situation in class. They never mentioned terrorism, they never talked about 10,000 people dying. Instead, they talked about the positive things that came out of the situation. People coming together. People giving of themselves. The people who did make it out alive, like DJ's teacher's husband. And maybe we should all act like 8 year olds today. Maybe we should go about our day looking for positive signs. I'm going to try and post more of that today. The stories that may make your heart feel better.

5:45 AM
I was trying to upload a picture of Pete here and I went to my Freeservers account to do so and was greeted by the message that I have exceeded my bandwidth for the month. The amount of hits and page views I received the past few days freaked them out, I guess. This means several things: they are going to be charging me the rest of the month or they will take my site down; I can't update any of my pages besides the blog page. The banned books site, which is up there because of banned books week this month, can't be worked on. I can't even figure out how much they are charging me for the rest of September. So this is like the last thing I need to push me over the edge. Sigh.

Please read this article on Pete, whose wake I will be attending tonight.

6:05 AM
Life moves, even if you want it to stop. I have to go to work today. There are trials to be heard and legal citations to research and mundane tasks to be tended to. Please find some peace today, in some small way. Hug a child. Call a parent. Watch an old, loved movie instead of CNN for a while. Walk through a garden. Read some poetry. Live your life, because you can.

1:33 PM
Apparently one of our servers at work ran through the World Trade Center, hence no internet connection at work. I'm home now, couldn't concentrate on my job. I did, however, find something to make me feel useful in all this. My sister and I organized a drive at work to collect items that the rescue workers need to get through their shifts. Snacks, baby wipes, t-shirts..things of that sort. We found a place here that has become a clearing house for people who want to donate items, and someone loaned them 18 tractor trailers to haul the stuff into the city. I've already gotten a great response from my co-workers, so I'm hoping that Monday morning we will be able to take over a few truckloads of stuff to the bar.

About the bandwidth problem, I got some offers from some very generous people to either host my site or mirror it. Right now, I am going to let Freeservers charge me whatever, because I can't deal with any other issues today. I have Pete's wake tonight, and I've to get stuff together for the kids to be prepared to spend three days going back and forth from their great grandma's wake and funeral. I'm tired, mentally and physically, but all the emails and support I get from everyone revives me every time.

1:51 PM
My mom got home from work today and there was a note from my dad saying that his friend, a fire chief from LA, stopped over on his way into Manhattan to help. My dad went with him. I'm so pissed at him. Yet proud.

2:40 PM
Mom heard from dad. He's right in there, as I knew he would be. Standing at ground zero, waiting for someone to loan him equipment so he can go in. I understand why he is doing this. It's in his blood. These are his friends.

5 guys have been found alive. There is hope.

5:04 PM
My cousin Stan came home for a couple of hours and had plenty of stories to tell. The most amazing story is that he twice narrowly escaped death. The first time, I think I mentioned this already, was the first day when he turned a corner that Pete Ganci didn't. Two seconds or so separated him from the same sad fate as Pete. Yesterday, Stan was in the building that collapsed, in the basement. He and another firefighter hit the ground and as they did, a piece of sheet metal came flying at them with such force that it stuck to the wall, an inch above their heads. Glad to see he was home for a while, but as he is the only commanding officer left in his department, he only had a couple of hours of luxury here before he had to head back. Haven't heard from dad yet, but I'm sure he's ok. This is my last post until later tonight, when I get back from Pete's wake.

Something big just flew overhead. Left a shadow across my window and a skipped beat in my heart. Strange how I got used to not hearing planes overhead.

Is anyone else just breaking down in tears at random times?

9:34 PM
I can't put into thoughts right now how affected I was by attending the wake. The line to get in was around the block. And this isn't because he died a very public death, it's because that's the kind of man Pete was; that people would stand in line for hours to pay respect to him.

I've been to so many wakes in my life, more than I care to count. There is always an air of sadness, a sense of solemnity. But here, there was something more. We were mourning Pete because he was fireman in the line of duty, but we were also mourning him because he was a victim of terrorism. And that changes things. You could, in some ways, accept that a colleague, friend, family member died doing the job he loved. But it's so hard to accept when it comes this way. In such an unbelievable way.

The numbness and disbelief of the past few days melted away as I kneeled in front of Pete's casket, his Fire Department uniform hanging next to it. There were pictures on a table to the right. To the left, his golf club leaned on a table. The flowers, so many flowers: Beloved uncle, friend, father, brother. And I kneeled there and looked at all these things, and looked at the closed casket and touched it, ever so briefly, and looked at Justin next to me and cried. It had suddenly become real. The events of the last three days were no longer like a surreal dream that I was hoping to wake from. It's real. This happened. The proof lies in this casket in front of me.

I think of all the people that will be doing the same thing this week and the next, staring at a coffin and trying to deny the reality. How many wives and husbands and parents and children will stand there, kissing and hugging and accepting condolences? How much can we accept before we want to lay down and close our eyes and not let anything else in?

9:56 PM

My father's view...

Dad's story: He got a call from the chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department that they were coming in on military transport with some special equipment. This is equipment that my father has given seminars on. They came to pick him up sometime this morning and headed to the city.

Keep in mind that my father was a New York City fireman for over 20 years, a volunteer fireman on Long Island for much more than that. He has seen many things. He has seen the disaster of airline crashes and carried the lifeless bodies of children out of burning buildings. He has lost friends, many of them, over time. But nothing he saw in his 20 years on the force could even compare to the carnage he saw today. In his words:

"It was unbelievable. Like nothing you can imagine by seeing it on tv." He keeps shaking his head as he's talking, as if to get rid of the visions of the day. "There were pieces of steel the size of (a room) embedded in cement walls. It was all...just steel and cement everywhere. Pieces of the building sticking up here and there. Guys using buckets to take out what they find. Moving pieces of the building one at a time. And the dust and soot, a foot deep in most places, not a place untouched. It was war, like Germany, devastation. I could not describe to you the devestation." His workboots, a tan color when he left this morning, where now gray, covered with ash so thick I could draw a line in it. He continued, "Fire, smoke, everywhere. Everywhere you looked, there were buildings with pieces of other buildings stuck in them. Every window blown out. Just waiting for something else to fall. Smoke...fire...it was just horrible." He looked up at us then, sad and shocked at once. "They will never find those bodies," he said. "Never."

10:15 PM

To sleep...

I miss being comfortably numb.
The preceeding were my two stories for tonight and all I've got right now. I've got to take my kids to their great-grandma's wake tomorrow, and then Saturday I have Pete's funeral, where my father will be a pallbearer. It's getting to be too much. It's hard for everyone, whether you know someone or not. The enormity of it, the severity of it, no one is unaffected. We are all tired, we are all wired, we are all edgy.

Once again, thank you everyone for all your thoughts and comments. Thank you especially to the whole Surreally crew, you know who you all are, for the wonderfully expressed thoughts and wishes I received from you. Ok, I'm gonna cry now. Good night.

to delete

9.12.01 The Day the World Went Away

5:24 AM
I slept badly, if at all. I would close my eyes here and there and drift off, only to jump awake at the slightest sound or flash of light from the tv. And every time, I would have to think is this real. Did this really happen? My mind still won't let me absorb some of the facts; the sheer number of dead and injured, the scope and magnitude of wreckage, the far-reaching effects of the aftermath.

I am not going to work today. Not because I am scared and want to cower in my house, giving the terrorists exactly what they want, but because I want to be here should my dad need anything, I still haven't heard about my cousins, and I am so very, very tired.

The news is starting to name the dead. They mention Pete here, and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come on him, as he was chief of the Department. Every time I close my eyes I see his face. My father went to see his wife last night and said they had to sedate her. I can't imagine.

Thank you so much to everyone for you wonderful emails, your comments, your support and your offers of a shoulder to lean on or an ear to hear me out. Not only was the independent web the best source of news yesterday, and the most personal, it was also the place I turned to for comfort.

6:53 AM
We finally heard from my cousin. He's back at the firehouse getting some much needed rest before he goes back to the scene for another shift.

7:23 AM
The sadness is overwhelming.

7:40 AM
They just found a police officer and 5 firefighters alive in the rubble. Something to cheer about.

9:30 AM
Just took DJ to school. They had indoor lineup, and the hallways were near empty. So many kids stayed home today. I sent the kids to school because I felt like keeping them home would make them view school as an unsafe place. And really, are they any safer at home than they are at school? Sure, I would like to spend the day with them, keeping them close. But for all intents and purposes, we have our lives to live. I don't want them to fear school, or fear being away from home. For kids especially, it is so important to keep a sense of normalcy.

Both the kids keeping hearing the word "Arabs" thrown around and I made it clear to them that their Arab friends in school are just that, their friends. No matter what they hear and what they read, their schoolmates are not responsible for anything that happened. They are suffering emotionally just like the rest of us. Please, people...let's not turn this into an excuse for intolerance or ethnic profiling. Let common sense and decency prevail. Keep sane.

12:19 PM
I went outside to get some air and ended up talking to neighbors for a while. There is a feeling outside, a palpable fear that you can almost taste. Everyone has the same blank look on their faces. Everyone keeps shaking their heads in disbelief. And everyone wonders, what's next? Do we go to war? Do we wait for something else to happen? Is it really over? We have, overnight, become a nation brim with paranoia.

And yet, life goes on. People are working, shopping, driving. Pets are being walked and I hear a baby crying and I look at the pile of laundry and know that I must get to it sometime today. We keep walking, keep moving, but we do it differently. We do it with a sense of dread and awe and wonder. We have become part of something bigger than any of us have ever experienced. We have watched the world change in a matter of minutes. We have watched the face of New York undergo major surgery. We have lost friends, husbands, wives, children, neighbors. We are mourning strangers. We are staring in horror at videos of people jumping from buildings, a plane shearing a seemingly unpentatrable structure, a familiar site being obliterated. We see heaps of rubble, a city covered in smoke and ash, the walking wounded and the dead. So many dead.

Where do we go from here? How do we live our lives every day, at least for the near future, without looking over our shoulder. What will we think the next time we see a plane overhead? The next time the ground rumbles or the lights go out or a siren calls from somewhere in the night? How much are we changed and is it forever? How much has our psyche changed? When is the next time you will be able to watch a comedy and laugh without feeling the remorse mix with it? When will you next be able to enjoy a baseball game, a video game, a movie, a concert, a day in the park? When will our minds heal? When will our hearts heal? Will they ever?

2:26 PM
I'm gonna take a blogging break for a while. My dad has some firefighter friends over and we're going to head over there and just try to be some kind of support for them. Then I'm going to pick up the kids and do something with them...even if it's just play. I'll be back tonight.

For everyone who is still waiting, hoping, wondering....our thoughts are with you.

6:10 PM
One Liberty Plaza has partially collapsed, and another building is close to going down. There are reports of more firefighters injured. On that note, Pete Ganci's wake is scheduled for tomorrow night and Friday night. I'm going to go tomorrow. They are holding it in the Farmingdale firehouse instead of the funeral home, in anticipation of very large crowds. My dad is still walking around with a look of disbelief on his face. His friend was over today, and I have to say, I have never seen two men look so defeated. Ever.

Jason is compiling a list of blogs that have either news accounts, personal stories or pictures relating to the World Trade Center. D.C. or PA. If you know of one, just leave the URL in the comments here and I'll pass it on to him.

8:45 PM
It just won't end...

Unrelated to the whole Trade Center disaster, unrelated to terrorism or bombs or national disaster, my ex-husband's grandmother passed away tonight, the woman my kids call Nanny, a woman they loved very much. So now, they are dealing with this on top of everything else. I was calling my ex to ask him to watch the kids tomorrow and take DJ to baseball while I went to Pete's wake and he drops that. My mind is blown. I just can't think anymore.

The phone at my dad's doesn't stop. Two firemen from Bellmore, confirmed dead. Chief of Levittown, dead. Two brothers he knows, dead. The toll mounts. The New York City Fire Department is made up in large portion of Long Islanders, most of them volunteer firemen. So whether I know these people from here, or from my father having been a city fireman for 20 years, the numbers have stopped adding up in my head. I'm rambling now. I'm making no sense. I still have cousins out there. My one cousin, Stan, his mom and dad live upstairs from me. Every time I hear their phone ring, my heart skips a beat. My stomach is in a constant knot. I'll go to Pete's wake tomorrow night and then Friday go to the Bronx for Nanny's wake. And in between keep tally of all the others, trying to match names with faces and families. I know the guy down the block finally came home. He's going back tomorrow to help again. Our friend Jimmy's brother, the one on the bomb squad, is dead. Jimmy lost his other brother to cancer three weeks ago.

This post was a big run on thought, probably unreadable. I just needed to put down my thoughts.More later, after a stiff drink and few hugs.

September 09, 2001

11:14 AM
Fuck this. I am going home. I don't want to be here like a sitting duck in a government building anymore.

11:51 AM
I'm home. I'm ok. The ride home was scary. I was driving east and in my rear view mirror I could see the smoke from the city. It looks like Pearl Harbor. And I keep thinking, this must be what it's like to live in Israel every day. To live your life in fear. Today was primary day here and the voting is held in schools. Which means anyone could walk into a school without being questioned. That's why I wanted to go get the kids. But they cancelled the primary. Anyhow, I'm home, I'll be on AIM later as soon as Justin lets his friends know he's ok. Be good.

12:17 PM
Even more plane crashes now. I lost count. I keep watching the tv even though I don't want to. I can see the smoke rising in the air to the west.

12:20 PM
This is really eerie. The silence outside. Living so close to Kennedy Airport, the sound of planes getting ready to land is a constant drone throughout the day. And now the skies are empty except for the thin veil of smoke drifting slowly this way. I am in the twilight zone.


1:40 PM
The footage of people running away as the Trade Center collapsed is horrifying. It's like a bad Godzilla movie.

My cousin, a New York City fireman, has been in the city all day. His wife hasn't heard from him yet. My brother-in-law is on his way in to the city, as they have asked all volunteer firefighters to come in and help out. I heard that one firehouse lost it's entire contingent in the second plane incident.

We can't sit here and play nice anymore while everyone else plays dirty. Nice guys do finish last.

Justin's mom called from PA and said to make sure we have enough toilet paper in the house.

2:27 PM
10,000 people dead in one day, in one place. I cannot fathom the idea. I just can't.