World Trade Center – Part II

September 11th, Tuesday, continued – I must’ve driven all over New Jersey to try to find a way home for over 7 hours, with no luck at all. I found out from Nina, who worked at Newark, that she sat in all that traffic for over 5 hours. I would not have been able to do that. By late afternoon, I was exhausted and needed to lie down.It was then that a hero came to my rescue. As I have no friends and family living further west of New Jersey, I started to think about finding a hotel for me to spend the night in. But Jason didn’t want me to be alone that night, and frankly, neither did I. As he could not drive up to look after me himself, he sent the next best thing. His parents. He insisted I spend the night at his parent’s place, so he quickly called up his Mom and within seconds his Mom was giving me directions to their place.

Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe meeting Jason’s Mom for the first time. I had met his Dad only once before, but as he was very much like Jason, we got along fine and dandy. Jason’s Mom, luckily, was warm, welcoming, loving and affectionate. She welcomed me into her home, took care of me like I was part of the family and reassured Jason that I was safe. Considering how I was a virtual stranger to her, I was very touched by her hospitality and kindness, something that I will be eternally grateful for.

Now, keep in mind that I have not been able to see the news till I got to Jason’s parent’s house. When I finally saw the clips of the planes hitting the towers and eventually collapsing, I went numb. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t say anything, I couldn’t even utter a sound.

I have had enough, so Jason’s Mom ushered me into one of the bedrooms, told me to wash up and go to sleep. When I finally got to talk to Jason again, I was able to tell him that my family had all made it home safe. I called them up at home, told them where I was, then went to sleep. I don’t normally sleep well in other people’s beds, no matter how comfortable they were, but I remember being knocked out in seconds.

I know my story is nothing compared to what my family went through, or other families, for that matter. My family waited several hours to be able to take the ferry back into New Jersey and take a bus home. I will never be able to figure out how they managed to find a way home but I couldn’t. I suppose if I had waited longer in the evening, I could have found a way, but I was drained mentally, physically and emotionally. And I was glad to be able to rest.

September 12th, Wednesday – I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who wished they had just woken up from their worst nightmare. But when I opened my eyes and tried to adjust to the unfamiliar surroundings, the images I saw just a few hours before all came back to me and I realized it had all been too real.

I went downstairs to see that Jason’s Mom already had breakfast prepared for me. We watched more news coverage on what happened the day before and to see what the road conditions were. But there were no traffic reports that day as most people had decided to stay at home.I, on the other hand, had no excuse to miss work, so I went to our office wearing the same clothes I wore the day before. I remember wearing sandals, a blue blouse and gray slacks. Everybody was relieved to find out that my family had made it home safe but not everybody at work had been able to account for all their friends in the city. When I was getting ready to leave work, I still wasn’t sure what the road conditions were, but by then, I didn’t care. I wanted to go home so badly. 30 hours after I left work on Tuesday, I finally made it home. I broke down at the sight of my Mom, I hugged her tight and thanked God, for what exactly, I don’t remember. I was just thankful.

The rest of the week was a blur to me.

September 15th, Saturday – Early in the morning, my sister dropped me off at the dentist and after an hour, I was ready to go home. But as I was standing outside the receptionist area, I started getting very dizzy. I was losing awareness of my surroundings, and felt like I was about to faint. But I somehow managed to call up my sister to have her pick me up, and walked out of the building to get some fresh air. I have never fainted before in my life and I wasn’t about to start now, so I fought it, though I don’t remember how. I just remember being so glad to get into my sister’s car.

As soon as we got home, I told my family that I was just going to lie down for a bit. When I got up a few hours later, they told me that I must’ve passed out because they could not wake me up at all. And we never did figure out why. But I had to brush it off because our guests started to arrive.

That was the day of my big sister’s bridal shower. We had been planning it for weeks. No surprises for Meg because we would never have been able to pull one over her. What had worried us most was how inappropriate it looked to be throwing a party in light of recent events. But as the person who organized the whole shindig was flying in from Vegas, we could not postpone it.

And in the end, we were all glad we didn’t. While we were all very lucky to have not lost anybody on 9/11, we did not want to appear insensitive to those who did. We talked about it later on and we all agreed that we used the shower to get our bearings and try for normalcy again. And I think it worked. The shower was a huge success and we have many memories of that special day as it led up to my big sister’s wedding.

I look back on all these events and I’m amazed that almost five years have passed since that fateful week. Sometimes it feels like it only just happened, when I see memorials for the people who died that day, and especially when I’m at what they call “Ground Zero.” I hope the day will soon come when people will stop calling it that.

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~ by Binibining Beth on May 31, 2006.

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