The phone rang early that morning, the same as today. Today the old green phone with the “brrriiiiing” jolted me out of my sleep at 6:30 AM. My heart pounding, not having found my glasses, bleary-eyed I reached for the phone knocking it, but the coiled cord attached, though all tangled swung the handset, knocking, banging, making an incredible loud crashing noise as it hit the floor. Pulling up the coils I braced myself.
In 2001, the same date that we all know and fear, September 11th, I got a phone call around 9 AM from a neighbor asking to come and watch the news together. We sat in disbelief along with the rest of the world. My breath held, when the phone rang again, it was my friend telling me to change the channel, my husband was on TV.
At the time, I was a new mother, on maternity leave. I had worked on Wall Street and my husband worked downtown as well, for the Federal government. We both traveled through the towers every morning on our way to work, and that morning was no different for my husband. He watched the second plane hit, and was evacuated immediately as all government employees were, of course, considered high risk and government buildings were possible targets for terrorist attacks.
I changed the channel and heard his voice. He was being interviewed. How my friend recognized his voice, is still a mystery to me and such a small miracle that I caught a few minutes of it. There was no video, just an audible interview. I was able to hear that he was okay, safe and trying to find a way home. I hadn’t realized how tense my body was until I exhaled and just started sobbing. All the others that were not safe. I felt it in my heart. While I was relieved I was still so emotionally involved.
I had a fitful sleep last night. My husband was traveling abroad and his return flight from London was today. To fly on September 11th to me was like, whoa, why would you do that? But of course, everything is in the hands of the Almighty. There is no significance to this day other than it happening to be the date the terrorists plotted out.
Subconsciously though, there was that moment. The phone rang and jolted me from my sleep this morning at 6:30 and I was, with sucked in breath, praying it was his voice I heard and not of some service or the army or the police stating the worst.
I have tortured myself with listening to those last-minute phone calls from the towers to their loved ones. I have watched over and over again people jumping from thousands of feet, hanging out of their office windows out of sheer desperation. Grasping at all the footage available of real-time videos and tribute videos that I can so that I stay connected. I find it fascinating that the emergency number to call in the US is 9-1-1. The one call to 9-1-1 on 9/11 that haunts me is the one from a gentleman named, Kevin Cosgrove. We hear all the stages of emotion that he goes through, fear, anger, desperation. It is so painful and my husband still refuses to talk about the details of that day as they were for him. Walking 100’s of blocks to safety, donating blood along the way, watching the tower fall. I’ve only gotten snippets over the last 11 years and when he sees me watching these videos he can’t understand why I watch the same awful things over and over again. It is to remind myself that there is evil in this world.
Evil takes on many names. There is the terrorist, the cancer, the monsoon, the earthquake, the heart attack, the Bin Ladens and Saddam Husseins, the poverty, the shootings – the list goes on. The one common thread is that all is in the hands of our Maker. He decides who live and who will die.
All we can do is pray. Believe that we have the power to change the course of action, perhaps even the final outcome.
This day is one of the worst for me. I am drawn to watch and re-watch and listen to the unfortunate ends to innocent lives. I am connected and forever will be. I never want to say – that happened a long time ago – its in the past, we need to move on. Yes, we must continue…but we can be better. We can hope for a time that there is peace among the nations, that there is no sickness and that we suffer no more traumas. We need to do our share though.
Keeping our eyes open to the evil and warding it off with prayer will prevent us from being attacked unknowingly. We understand that G-d has the power to strike us at any time with what He deems fit, though we are not meant to comprehend. With honest dialogue within ourselves and with our Maker, this is our time. Before the holiday of a new year approaches, let us make amends and try harder than we did last year. Be better people to ourselves and to each other. Act as if the King is always in our presence.
Sure I can preach, but I also want to put my words into action. Join me please in taking today if you can and spare the gossip. Hold your tongue and when you speak, speak kindly. Every day is a new day for reaching a different goal. This is an emergency. We are all at risk. Let’s work together you and I and reach this goal today.
What do you say?