i was getting big d ready for kindergarten, gm ready for preschool, and gk (only a year and a half at the time) just ready. because our friends knew that smockdaddy and i didn't watch local television, i received one call after another telling me to turn on the television. the third call was my friend who knew that smockdaddy had boarded a plane that morning bound for new york city. what she heard was dulles airport, but what she thought she heard was "a dallas airport." i was duly freaked out much like the rest of the world, but maintained as much calm as i could. i turned on the television just in time to see the second plane plunge into the towers. i turned the television off and continued getting the children ready to leave for school because, according to smockdaddy's flight time, i figured he was still midair and wouldn't be able to answer his phone anyway.
as i walked the children towards the car and was about to shut the front door, our phone rang again. i figured it was another person calling to tell me about the horrible news that i did not want to hear, so i closed the door. i don't know how to explain it, but i heard that small still inner voice that said "answer the phone." i ran to the phone and picked it up with shaky hands, "hello?"it was smockdaddy, "it's me. what the hell is going on?
"where are you?"
"our plane was grounded. what's going on?"
by this time i was so happy to know he was okay, my jaws were shaking so hard from the adrenaline that i couldn't respond.
"i'm at the airport in atlanta. all the airport televisions are blacked out. people are freaking out all over the place trying to find out what is going on. what's happened? have we been attacked?"
i explained the very little that i knew the best i could and told him to keep in touch as much as possible. he reminded me "you know what to do if all hell breaks loose" and then told me to take the smocklings to school, "keep things as normal for them as possible."
after i dropped big d and gm off at school, i called my stepfather -- who lived only one city block from the children's school -- and asked if i could join him, explaining, "i want to be close to the children just in case. and, if the world is gonna end today, i don't want to be alone."
as we watched the television together, i turned to my dad. "i can't believe all debris that's falling. are those papers or what?" i asked. my dad just shook his head.
"what?" i stared back at the screen. my brain could not register what i was seeing.
my dad was the absolute strongest man i knew. he was a depression-era rough and tumble good ol' boy from oklahoma. he'd seen a helluva lot in his day. at that moment, i couldn't remember ever having seen him cry. his blue eyes filled with tears and somehow i knew. i finally realized that what i was seeing were people. terrified, desperate people jumping to their deaths. with baby nursing in my lap, i sat next to my father and we cried together in total silence as we watched the towers fall.