To The Heavens, They Obliged

The History of the Twin Towers Design and Architecture - Bloomberg

“Good Lord . . . there are no words . . .” CNN Anchor Aaron Brown as the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

Something hit the World Trade,” My wife told me as I was shaving.

Of the myriad thoughts that scrabbled through my brain, I never approached the reality of what had just happened. As I listened to the news coverage, describing the event as a small plane crashing into the North tower, I knew this wasn’t true. I’d been to the twin towers and gotten lost inside the mighty shadow it cast on my every step. They were double imaged testimony of man’s ability to dream big and build even bigger; One hundred and ten stories tall and almost three-quarters the length of a football field wide. A twin-engine Cessna would’ve resembled a pock mark on the side of this massive structure.

“It wasn’t a small plane . . no way,” I said.

9/11 documents detail bravery and fear - Deseret News

It was a few minutes before nine a.m., minutes that separated us from a sinister new normal and the worst kind of evidence that our world had gone sick with madness. I listened as the news reports kept getting it all wrong, and I prayed for the uneasy feeling that wouldn’t quit my bones to leave me be.

I stepped outside to take a call from my sister and lit up a smoke as we talked about what we didn’t know as if it meant something. The sky was a pristine ocean of blue that held forever in its mighty reach, as if Andrew Wyeth had paid God a ransom for the privilege. And then those precious minutes stopped separating us from the truth and then the second plane hit the south tower and then that peaceful blue sky went black and then a quiet Tuesday morning on the cusp of autumn became the meanest winter.

Ohio State studying effects of WTC dust on 9/11 first responders

It wasn’t long before Washington was hit, after which every major city across the country braced for the next attack. And then reports of a plane going down three hours west of us, and then the waiting as time got stuck in this insidious clench of hopelessness. By Tuesday night, I feared sleep as the threat of more attacks continued to prevail. And when I woke early on Wednesday, it was as if midnight had visited us and decided to stay.

I walked my kids to school at the end of the week. I felt an intense need to propagate simple moments out of the unseen world, and I was struck with an even deeper sense of humility. I visited the principal to offer my apologies. I had engaged in a heated argument with him on that Tuesday morning when I insisted on picking up my kids from school because I wanted them with me. I remember the exhaustion on the faces of every adult I came across. We couldn’t turn back time, we couldn’t undo all the horrible crimes that had been perpetrated on us. The calculus on a new millennium had morphed into a frightening new reality, where every person, place and thing could be the end of days.

NYC first responders, non-profit rush to save 9/11 tribute - New York Daily News

The weekend was full of shutting out the world around us the best we could, but it was no use. There were calls from my sisters who had just gotten home from Maine and calls to my cousin, who had been in the north tower, and calls to friends who still wanted to talk about the one thing we were trying to get away from but never would.

I went to church that Sunday. It was something I rarely did by that point, but it felt like the right place to be since I was desperate to gain a peace of mind that wasn’t happening in the days since the attacks. The house worked for me in the way I assume it’s intended to work because I prayed as if I had a direct line to Mother Mary’s ear. I prayed for the heroes who were lost and I prayed for the heroes who kept digging for signs of anything at all. I wished for that deep blue ocean of a sky to return those precious minutes back to them . . . the minutes that came before a raging storm stole their forever away. I wished for a different somewhere, a place where that brilliant sky might get to finish its work for their weary souls.

Wherever they were.

42 thoughts on “To The Heavens, They Obliged

  1. I am weeping now for the person I was before that horrible morning. I’m weeping for all of us. The world changed that day. That is the day I learn to hate. But as a friend said recently, we must temper that hatred with love that is the only way we will win. If we hate then we have lost. We cannot afford to lose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We will always weep on the day, and the days after, because we will never forget the loss. I was so out of my mind with rage and hate on that day, after I knew what had happened. The entire week was spent trying to detox, knowing I could not have that in my system. Thankfully, I was able to visit NYC with a group of volunteers in October. It showed me why hate doesn’t get us anywhere, and I really needed that lesson.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. B

    A day later, but here I am to properly comment no this beautifully drafted piece.

    We all remember exactly what we were doing on that day, at the moment we learned of (saw, in that incessant loop) the first plane and everything that followed. I, too, remember thinking what a horrible accident that first plane was all to come to the blood-turning-to-ice realisation that it was deliberate and the feeling of disbelief while we watched the looped images of everything that happened.

    While 9/11 changed forever how we see the world, the days that followed are what influenced who we became.

    Thank you for letting us into your world during those first few days in such a generous manner.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      Your comments are always proper, so there is that yanno? 😉

      I KNEW something was wrong, that something was off about all the reports of pilot error. There was almost a zero chance that a commercial airliner had flown that far off course, not unless it was on purpose. My thought was an attack then, but you don’t want to think it.

      I agree with this, and I relate to this and I resemble this! I was a pretty staunch Republican in September of 2001. A Bush voter, yes I said it, and not afraid to admit it. But . . the party never changed, it never adapted, it left me behind. I became disillusioned and angry and then I just changed.

      I don’t know where it comes from, when you find a wellspring of emotions, but that’s writing I guess.

      Thank you so much.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Well… you know what I mean 🙂

        I still see myself standing the doorway of my babysitter’s, staring at the TV that was, surprisingly, on the news, loathe to leave my little ones with her but still needing to go see Mick in the hospital. I think I also refused to think it was an attack. Then, of course, I got to the hospital as the second plane hit. And there was no more doubt. So much was going on in my personal life (as with most people) that it all became entwined.

        Nothing to be ashamed about. And I’m glad you’re not afraid to admit it. Things changed, the party forgot to adapt and has left more than you angry and disillusioned.

        I love that you have this beautiful ability to share your emotions. Writing is a wonderful way to deal with and face said emotions.


        Liked by 1 person

        • Seriously! I think it was the same for so many of us of a certain age. My marriage and health issues were not uncommon to most peeps I was socializing with. We all had so much going on and we all thought it was the end all, and then this horrific event happened and we all doubled back and fell to our knees. Perspective, one hell of a dose.

          I’m good with how it all happened over time. I just came to see things differently is all.

          Muchas gracias lovely.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Twenty years ago, we were still puppies, realtively speaking. Hell. I was 37. And my issues were not the same as your issues and not the same as Bob’s or Susan’s or… but we were living what we were living. This definitely brought us all to our knees. Perspective – amazing how fluid that can be.

            I hear you. Still.


            Liked by 1 person

          • My God were we ever. To think back to then feels like I was walking through an entirely different universe. Everything has changed since then, and I don’t use hyperbole when I say that.

            Yeah, after that day I learned that my personal problems had possibility. There were answers to be gained, or at least they were within reach. Even with health, there is always a chance for better days. But these attacks just left a hole in our lives that could never be healed.



            Liked by 1 person

          • No, you don’t use hyperbole, you speak true. It was a totally different universe.

            That is perspective with a positive spin – crazy how such a negative thing did that. Who would have thought, eh?



            Liked by 1 person

          • After which, certain of us held onto that seething hatred while others shed it in search of more constructive avenues. And what’s worse, the attacks served as justification for too many people who wanted to damn anyone who looked or spoke differently from them.

            Perspective should be a lesson, I think.


            Liked by 1 person

          • There will always be those who will hang on to the hate and, thankfully, there will always be those who search for the love. Yes, they did. Co-workers who suddenly were judged by their beards, found themselves on the receiving end of such ugliness. Awful.

            Yes, it should.


            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s sad how freedom was attacked by people in THIS country after 9/11. They won’t win when all is said and done, and they’re actually going to make matters worse for themselves in the long run, even if they don’t understand that.


            Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Marco,

    That day our daughter in law was spared. She was on her way to change buildings when the second plane hit. They were told to stay put. Fortunately she disobeyed. She was running late for work that morning. Thank God for that. If she’d been on time…I don’t need to finish that sentence. My brother worked in DC and as he puts it, he had a ringside seat. It was a tense day for us waiting for news from both cities. Our story had a “happy” ending. So many didn’t.
    You’ve written a wonderful tribute to the day that changed this country forever. It seems we’ve only gone from crazy to insane in a New York 20-year minute.

    Shalom in the truest sense


    Liked by 1 person

    • Rochelle,

      That is sobering, isn’t it? It really puts every single thing in perspective. Thank God they both made it home, because like you said, so many stories perished on that day. Senseless horror.

      Shalom and hugs.


      Liked by 1 person

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