9.12.01 The Day the World Went Away
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.
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.
The sadness is overwhelming.
They just found a police officer and 5 firefighters alive in the rubble. Something to cheer about.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.