My thoughts are just swimming around my head right now. While I was writing my tribute, I didn’t know quite how to go about it. I was afraid to get too personal. I was randomly assigned a person that I didn’t know. In doing my research, I found email addresses for one of her brothers and her husband. I tried to contact both, but I didn’t hear back from them. Maybe the email addresses were defunct. Maybe they didn’t feel comfortable sharing information about Laura Lee with me, a stranger. I’ll never know.
Last night we were watching the last half of the ABC docu-drama. It was the first coverage of 9/11 that I’d watched. I haven’t seen any of the TV movies about Flight 93 or the Nick Cage movie, or anything. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel it was right. No one knows what happened on Flight 93 exactly, and I think it’s wrong to speculate. And the Nick Cage movie? Profiting off of this event seems wrong to me. And watching that last night, while simultaneously reading other tributes, brought that day back to me.
I was at 7-11 getting my morning coffee. The same two clerks were always there in the mornings. One was on the phone, the other making more coffee. When I approached the register, the clerk still on the phone was trying to change the channel on the TV that was usually set to daily trivia/advertising. She looked at me and said “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” My mind went blank. I was confused. How the hell could someone make a mistake like that and fly a plane into a giant building in Manhattan? What kind of idiot was that? That was Flight 11. The flight where Laura Lee Morabito sat in first class seat 2D. And two of the terrorists sat directly across the aisle from her in 2A & 2B.
And a funny feeling came over me. I’m your typical pessimist. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and I’m likely the one to point it out. Or I used to be. I’m not so much like that anymore. This could be no accident. This was deliberate. But why?
Back in my car, I scanned the radio channels. People were still doing bits, and no one was reporting any news. I switched to AM. Surely they would have it. Nothing. As I’m driving, I’m scanning the skies above, watching planes overhead. Are they flying too low? Are they headed in the right direction? Love Field is in the middle of a residential area, and planes fly very low over businesses, the street and a park to land there. And planes were still landing. It was freaky.
By the time I got to work, United 175 had just been flown into the South Tower. They were replaying the horrific crash over and over. And then the Pentagon. And then Shanksville. And we sat, waiting for the next hit. And then I realized my grandparents were in New York. On a trip for my grandmother’s 50th high school reunion. I called and managed to reach them. They were at breakfast in a restaurant on Long Island. My grandmother, running late as usual, prevented them from making it to Manhattan for breakfast. At the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World. Thank God.
We watched, unbelieving as the towers fell. I was imagining tens of thousands dead. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. Finally, we were sent home, to be with our families. I picked up my children from school and daycare, and I sat glued to the TV for the rest of the night.
In the days and weeks after, I felt changed. So did everyone else. We were nicer to each other. Flags flew and were pasted on bumpers. Nothing like a tragedy to bring out humanity. And then I think we started to forget a little. Our daily lives resumed. Our anger over how the war is being handled has divided us. And now, five years later, we are remembering again. Maybe we’ll change some more. Go back to being nicer to each other like we were five years ago. And not forget this time.