9–11 The Day My World Stood Still

We must preserve our first person stories

We’ve been told we should capture our first person stories, especially for those who have been born since this happened. I remember my parents and their peers talking about the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941. My babysitter, when I was very young, was born on that day. She grew up having a birthday that was always a sad remembrance.

It helps us understand the reality of history when we realize we are only one parent, grandparent, or great grandparent away from significant events that we need to learn from much of what has gone on in the world recently, both good and bad, have roots in this day. this is my first person story. Think about writing yours.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

I remember stepping out of the shower
images on the television, a building engulfed in flames.
Thought it was coming attractions of “Collateral Damage”
a movie discussed earlier,
the screams of Katie Couric told me otherwise.
Wrapped in a towel, staring at the images, mind so filled with horror
no discernible words formed.
Dressing robotically, confused as to what I was seeing
the second plane confirmed the intent.

I remember radio voices,
Scott and Todd, reporting what they were hearing
and seeing — voices choked with shock –
in Dr.Uray’s office — the nurses were weeping and trembling
all with children somewhere in the city.
We listened to Todd, or maybe it was Scott, wail in disbelief as the first tower
fell to earth, Dr. Uray corralled her staff — saying they must do their job in times of war,
her face grave with past remembrance, her mouth set in a line of determination.

I remember calling the office to say I couldn’t possibly come in,
my boss Morgan said many were leaving anyway,
others sat silent in the conference room,
soundless except for whispered descriptions for those without sight,
of the unfolding results of incomprehensible acts.
Later would come the stories of Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle
– escaping from the dust, debris and chaos, but that day,
we saw nothing but death and destruction.

I remember going to my sister Theresa’s house
she hadn’t heard from her husband, a supervisor at UPS,
who often subbed for drivers on the World Trade Center Route.
The kids trickled home from school , we tried to shield the youngest, Robert,
Through many many anxious hours before his father walked in the door.

I remember going home to my house,
my daughter Annemarie and my son Roy Michael, on the deck
surrounded by football players and cheerleaders
silent and subdued they clung to each other powerlessly,
all knowing someone with someone in the city.
I worried about my oldest, Rosemarie, on campus at Montclair University,
no phone calls would connect.
The greatest fear of a mother is to be separated from her children in a calamity or disaster.
Without her home where I could see, her, touch her — unbearable, on a day where all was unbearable.

I remember from a high point in Monroe,
a place now covered with a gated community,
we saw the smoke pluming miles into the sky
– a sky devoid of air traffic of any kind — creating a deafening silence that seemed to
halt the Earth in its rotation, hold it motionless in orbit, rendering us unable to draw a breath.

I remember night fell, but it was only darkness; sleep wrenched from it,
leaving only nightmares behind.

© 2011 Noreen Braman

Noreen Braman is the author of “Treading Water,” and is a keynote speaker & workshop facilitator. https://njlaughter.mailchimpsites.com

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