Strangely enough, I was recovering from the first car accident I had. (For those of you wondering, I was a passenger that time.) All three kids had been sent to school. It was Diana's first year in Intermediate school, Calypso was in third grade, Isaac had just begun morning kindergarten. After they were gone I settled into the claw foot tub so I could soak my neck. In order to do so I laid on the bottom of the tub with my legs dangling out the end so the water could cover my neck. This meant my ears were underwater too so I couldn't hear the phone ringing. Half an hour later I emerged and heard it ringing. As I dried off, I figured whoever it was would call back if it were important enough. By the time I was done it was ringing again. I assumed it was Diana worried about her forgotten lunch. I intended to take it to school as soon as I got dressed so I still didn't answer the phone.
Just as I finished dressing the phone rang again. I finally picked it up. Mr. Lime asked me if I had the TV or radio on. I said no. He told me I needed to turn one on then he hung up to return to his own class of students. I went downstairs and turned on the TV to see the horrific events unfolding before me. Moments later I saw the first tower fall, watched the planes going into the sides of each tower, saw the second tower crumble. I gasped wondering about the friends I knew who worked in the towers and other buildings nearby. It would be the next day before we knew those friends had escaped to safety. We live in Pennsylvania but close enough to the city to be a commuter community. I was frozen in place when I heard reports of the unaccounted for plane which was thought to be somewhere over Pennsylvania. Many people don't realize it but this area of our state actually has a couple of what would be considered strategic targets. It was unnerving. I knew NYC transplants to the area would be pulling their kids out of school in huge numbers.
I got in the car with Diana's lunch and agonized all the way there as to whether to have her remain in school or to bring her and and the other two home immediately. I stood in the office rather dazed as I watched city parents rush the desk and demand their children. When I made it to the counter the secretary asked me if I was picking up my child. I said I wasn't sure but that she forgot her lunch. I prayed silently trying to decide. The secretary said they had not told the children anything and had put the school on a media blackout. I took a deep breath and opted for as much normalcy as possible, leaving the lunch with the secretary. I cried all the way home.
Isaac was in morning kindergarten and had to be picked up shortly. Until then I was glued to news reports. After bringing him home and giving him lunch, I sent him to play with Legos knowing that would distract him a long time so I could go back to the news. I kept the volume very low and pulled one of the doors of the cabinet out to block his view if he should wander back in the room. Sometime later my concentration was shattered by his panicked shrieks. Given the mood of the day it rattled my nerves more than a little.
I turned around to find Isaac wailing. I mustered up every shred of calm I had to ask him what had happened. He was unglued. Finally he calmed down enough to tell me a bead was stuck in his nose. I breathed a bit easier to know it was something I could solve, or so I thought. Unfortunately, no amount of blowing his nose made the bead budge. I couldn't reach it with tweezers either. I calmly told him I thought we'd better go to the doctor. He began to cry again before wailing, "Will the doctor have to cut off my nose?!" I wrapped him close in a hug and assured him no such thing would occur. We dashed to the doctor's office, which was busy on a normal day but today seemed like a madhouse. We were taken to an exam room where we waited and waited. Isaac settled in and then sneezed a somewhat "juicy" sneeze. Dangling just on the edge of his nostril was the bead. I fished it out with a tissue, found a nurse to show the bead, and we hightailed it out of there before we could be charged.
We went home and read stories and played together until it was time to get his sisters. On September 11, 2001 I envied my 5 year old son whose greatest perceived tragedy was a bead up the nose. I also feared greatly for him wondering in what kind of world he'd be growing up.