I remember my phone ringing. I was in my 6th grade classroom during my planning period and it was my father. All he said was “Turn on the TV”. I watched coverage for about 10 minutes then my students returned for Social Studies. Our principal very quickly, almost instantly was at my door making the rounds, with direct instructions. “DO NOT TALK ABOUT THIS WITH YOUR STUDENTS” We had students in our school whose parents worked in the World Trade Center, and in the Pentagon, and we were instructed to carry on, business as usual. I was my cheerful, teaching self on the outside, but on the inside I was in a panic. What the hell was going on.
Today I remember my friend who escaped. She had to return directly to our home town and never go back. Her apartment demolished by flying debris, windows shattered and her home full of ash, her possessions destroyed. I remember my dad calling to let me know that our dear friends were OK. I remember a teacher friend having to send a five year old home knowing his father was one of the American Airlines pilots. I remember her relaying the details to me as she held back tears and put him in the car with a family friend knowing that his world was forever changed. I remember trying to imagine how my dear friend Doreen was able to go to ground zero day after day after day, for months to provide grief counseling, I remember looking out the window at the brilliant blue sky and thinking this is all surreal. I remember more calls from my father letting me know that my Aunt was OK, I remember checking off a mental list of all the New Yorker’s I knew and being relieved that they had all survived.
It was not until the next day that I learned about that cutie pie from college, the guy who was so nice and so attractive no one would ever forget him. It was not until the next day that I learned that he did not survive. I remember crying, and crying, for what seemed liked days, for all of them, for everyone who was effected by this terrible day.
Today I remember it all, like it was yesterday. Today I try to figure out when my children are old enough to learn about this horrific day. I don’t know when they are old enough to understand the importance of the historical event, but not frighten them, when are they old enough to understand, old enough to honor and old enough to reflect?