Nine Eleven

I remember the day vividly; there were crystal blue skies, warm and ample sunshine, comfortable temperatures, a picture perfect fall day in New England.

The date was September 11, 2001 and I was just getting into work (selling pianos at the time) when the phone rang.
It was my friend Colin, a piano technician from the store where I worked calling to tell me he’d heard on the radio that a plane had just flew into the World Trade Center in NYC.
It must have been a terrible accident we both agreed, a freakish malfunction of an old turbine perhaps, a minor incident but nevertheless a tragic loss of life of strangers neither of us would probably ever know.
At the time, it seemed safer thinking of it that way.
It was a small plane, Colin said and that made me feel better.
Fewer people meant fewer casualties in a city the size of New York.


After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that something didn’t seem quite right about the conversation. Couldn’t put my finger on it but something was wrong.
I knew it and Colin knew it, we just didn’t want to say it.

I mean, planes just don’t fly into buildings, do they?

My question was promptly answered when the phone rang 15 minutes later.
It was Colin again sounding a bit nervous.

Another plane? Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on? I asked.

He went on to tell me that both of the towers were hit and that it looked like we were at war.

War? I thought, With who?

I went outside and looked up into the sky for a sign that the world was still alright and all I saw was the endless crystal blue of the atmosphere but I noticed something else; there was an eerie stillness and silence hanging in the balance.

Word got around quickly that the US had been attacked as we began adding words to our daily lexicon: WTC, 9-11, Atta, Al Qaida, Al-Jazeera . . .

The dark truths would begin to bleed through the seemingly impenetrable fabric of our lives virtually changing all of us, forever.

The phones started ringing at the store . . . but not from customers.
The calls were from wives to husbands, sons to mothers, sisters to brothers – with one simple question; are you okay?
By noontime the phones stopped ringing and business ceased as the United States was brought to its very knees.

I can’t help but think of the same three words I thought on that horrible day: God Help Us


I still pray for all that we lost that day; the brilliant lives, our {unjustifiable} innocence and our shattered sense of {false} security.
We were too blind for far too long.

My words describing that day are still woefully inadequate but my thoughts and feelings of incomprehensibility are still so incredibly tender and raw.

I want badly to forgive but I still can’t.

God Bless all those we lost.

As Annie said, turn those headlights on . . .


8 thoughts on “Nine Eleven

  1. I cried when I saw that movie Flight 93 on TV not this 4th, but the past 4th of July. They may have stolen our innocence, but they haven’t broken our spirits.

    Amen, Deb.
    Nice to see you.
    How’s the book going?


  2. Michael,
    Your description of that day is not unlike mine. Except that instead of a phone call, I saw it on the news – at first I thought it was a movie preview then the truth sunk in. The eerie stillness, the raw pain, all of it – still with me. I will never forget it. Ever.

    It did look like a movie, didn’t it?
    I didn’t actually see it until I got home from work that night and it still made me shiver.
    Never forget. Ever.


  3. the .heartbreaking, senseless loss of life changed the face of the world forever….
    i put my headlights on today…people probably thought i was nuts…but i knew, that’s what counted…
    great post…

    I put on my headlights as well.
    Many folks had them on. Kinda cool.
    9-11 did change the face of the world.
    I cringed when I saw the Milner Hotel on my way to work today.
    It was the last place Atta slept.
    Too close to home for me.
    Atta sleeps in hell now, no doubt. And deserved . . .


  4. At a loss here. I was that way when it happened 6 years ago, watching it unfold on the TV. I’m the same way today. Beautiful post Michael. Well received.

    I think everyone is at a loss, Red.
    Look how much we lost.
    Hard not to feel changed in major ways.


  5. I still vividly remember sitting there holding Zoe’s 9 month old hand and crying as I thought what kind of world have I brought her into? I was chatting to some other mum’s online at the time of the first plane and they all just disappeared. Someone eventually got round to telling me what had happened so I turned the telly on and watched the second plane as it hit live. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. The shockwaves were far reaching…
    Beautifully written Michael….

    Almost the same scenario for me when JFK was shot in ’63.
    I was with my mother in the dining room (4 years old) when she started crying.
    I remember half understanding her explanation.
    As far as bringing a child into this world, never say that.
    Yours could be the one that changes everything.
    And Lord knows, Zoe is a special one.
    Thanks, Kel


  6. I remember it all too well too Michael. Crying at my desk as the radio said that no, indeed it wasn’t an accident… tower 1 was falling. tower 2 was falling. and tears went from slow to fast to sobbing. i didn’t know anyone, but i knew them all. they were you and me, our husbands, wives, kids, siblings. I remember picking up my then 6 year old son from latchkey at the catholic school he attended. he said it was like a video game on the tv. i held his hand tight as I walked to the church a half block away. I needed to pray. i reached the door handle. it was locked. the door to the church was locked. i fell to my knees sobbing, my 6 year old looking at me with wonder in his eyes. “Why are you crying mama?” he asked me, innocently. “everything.” i yelled out “God! Where are you??” I looked at my son, hugged him tight, and walked slowly back to my car, feeling more defeated than i can ever say i had felt. “Today is one of the worst days America will ever see”, i told him. “And I can’t even go into God’s house”
    man, you would think the memories would fade. they sure the fuck don’t though.

    Riveting comment.
    You should have blogged it.
    I have the feeling that many folks asked the same question that day: Where is God?
    I know I did.


  7. michael,
    i don’t know that we will ever find the words that capture what we felt, what we saw, what we did that day. maybe we aren’t meant to. maybe we are only meant to remember.

    Remember . . . yes, SF.
    I truly feel it’s what we’re supposed to do.


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