Five years ago this morning, he was doing the same things that he is doing right now. Checking fantasy football results. Thinking ahead to what he could have for lunch.
The phone rang. Felt like a normal ring. When his kind and soft-hearted aunt said that it was a call that she hated to make, her voice showed that to be true. His aunt knew where she worked. His aunt told him to turn on the news right away.
He flipped on CNN immediately. He read the words on the screen. They didn’t make sense to him. As they started to sink in, he thought it was some freak aviation accident in NY. It was sad, but he didn’t understand what it had to do with him.
Then he heard what building it was. His blood ran cold. He couldn’t feel his legs, so he quickly sat down in a chair.
She takes a subway that runs under the World Trade Center.
When he was once again capable of rational thought, he remembered that he had already received his “Good morning!” e-mail from her.
Logically he knew that she was at work.
He was sure of it.
So, he sent her an e-mail to be absolutely certain.
And he called.
And he began to sweat.
She meant the world to him. She was one of the people he was closest to —
He didn’t want to let in any bad thoughts.
News of the Pentagon broke before he heard back from her.
But, she was okay.
You already know how the rest of that morning unfolded. Most of which she watched from her office window.
As the day went on, it became harder and harder for him to stay in touch with her. The was disconcerting to him, even though he knew that she was a “safe” distance from the World Trade Center.
Finally she got word to him that she was evacuating from Manhattan. The knot in his stomach loosened. A little.
While she joined countless others in the march of the dazed, he remembered things. Little things mostly.
He remembered stubbornly arguing about stuff that seemed so trivial now.
He remembered that he didn’t make the best use of every single moment he spent with her.
He remembered the way she felt in his arms.
Later in the day, she called from the apartment of a friend of a friend of a friend. Possibly in Brooklyn. He was so hugely relieved to hear her voice. A voice that sounded even more sweet and sexy and smile-inducing than ever.
Then she told him that she was going BACK into Manhattan. She was going to walk back in with some co-workers to answer phonecalls at work from worried family members. Her company also had offices in the WTC.
He was understandably stressed out by this plan of hers. But, he knew that it was something important that had to be done. And, while they later joked about this being one of the things that she did that gave him a grey hair or two, he was proud of what she was doing. He felt lucky and honoured that someone like her loved him. (Feelings he experienced numerous times over the years, and still wonders if he expressed to her often enough.)
She made it through that day in one piece. Physically and emotionally.
He’ll be forever thankful.
And while their relationship hasn’t turned out like they hoped it would – sometimes that happens – she is still one of the most important people in the world to him.
Every year on this day he remembers. And he thinks about her.
This year she is going to spend much of the anniversary on international flights.
Just a couple more of his grey hairs that she’ll gladly take credit for.