Empty Seats

(The draft of this piece was inadvertently published earlier today. And the draft was tragic. Don’t worry, I have submitted a strongly worded letter to WordPress. Hopefully, they will change their program so that the next time I see something sparkly I will not hit the wrong button and send an unfinished piece out to the world. EESH.)

It has been fourteen years.

It seems so hard to believe that we have fallen on the fourteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.  Do you remember where you were fourteen years ago today? What were you doing? Do you remember how you learned that The United States of America was terrorized?

I was in my car in downtown Boston, driving to my first appointment of the day which was with my business consultant.  I heard that the first tower had been hit.  The general consensus at that moment was that it was an “accident.” It was a small plane which crashed- a pilot’s error.

My office manager called me frantically.  She asked if we could close the office.  I remember my consultant saying that things happen. Accidents happen. That we need to just keep going and keep focusing on work. We were still under the impression that the first tower incident was an accident.

Then, my consultant’s partner interrupted our meeting.  He informed us that the second tower had been hit.  His daughter and her two best friends worked on the upper floors of the second tower.

This was no accident.

Then, we all just went home.

I lived a half mile from the location of my meeting and it took me over two hours to drive home. Two hours.  The city was in gridlock. There was no cell coverage. People looked at each other as if asking for answers. But in those moments, there were none.

We were scared. But can you imagine how terrified those directly affected were? And how horrific it must have been to witness? And what about those who fought to save those suffering and wounded? And how about all the people: parents, children, spouses, friends, who were desperately trying to locate their loved ones?

How are the survivors remembering today? How do they cope with their personal tragedies around what happened fourteen years ago?

I knew of many people who were killed on September 11, 2001: My hometown pastor, my friend’s step-grandmother, my babysitter’s best friend, my client’s fiance.

My friend, Trudy.  She and I worked closely together when we were in Student Congress in college. Trudy who was the firecracker, the joyful, adorable and smart class officer.

I knew a bride to be who was to be married on the following Saturday, September 15. Her groom worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. She was working on the seating arrangement and did not know where to place the sixty-five guests that were unaccounted for during those days leading up to her wedding.

Those seats remained empty.

The place cards served as a memorial.

I was seven months pregnant watching that footage.  All I could think of was that I was about to bring a child into this world.  I had a great career and a home. I had a good family. I was faithful. My friends were like gold. My life was good.

But this horror was happening in our homeland. The one into which my child, in two short months, would be born. The land of the free and the home of the brave.

As a mother-to-be, I had many worries. I worried about diaper changing and sleepless nights. Would he have ten fingers and ten toes? Until that time, I did not worry about whether my workplace was safe, however. I did not worry about bombs destroying innocent lives.

I did not tend to worry about my daily general safety.

Yet, there are so many countries where expectant mothers do worry about safety daily. Just like they worry about those diapers getting changed or the fact that they have not slept more than three hours per night in months.

What happened on September 11 changed America.

Americans are not immune to the threats of terrorism, of evil and that those do not simply happen in foreign lands.

Years later I took my five-year-old child to a parade commemorating the five-year anniversary of 9/11. He asked about it; what happened. And I told him.

And telling him the evil truth hurt.

Explaining that evil to my child was like teaching him all the curses and swears I could think of and letting those words swirl in his head- uncensored. It was if I was if I was giving him evil fodder. I wished I could protect him.

Life is beautiful. But bad things happen. There are no two ways about it.

We remember what happened.

We remember the heroes.

We remember those whose lives were lost

And those seats will never be filled. By anyone. Ever.

That’s all

One thought on “Empty Seats

  1. I watched the reading of the names of loved one lost from Massachusetts today including stewardess Ms. Sweeney who bravely and reported that her plane had been hijacked and gave crucial detail to authorities. Her daughter Madeline read her mother’s name at the State House. There is now a citizen’s award honoring Ms. Sweeney. God bless all the loving and loved souls who died on September 11.


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