Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering and Retelling

I was starting a new job at High Point University on September 11, 2001.  I didn't have the radio on during my drive into the city.  I was enjoying the peace and quiet, and praying that God would bless me in this new venture.  My new boss, who had at one time been my college professor, arrived at the office at the same time.  I climbed out of my car at exactly 9:00a.m., and was greeted by a startled, frightened look upon my boss's face.  His first words to me that morning were, "Did you hear?"  Did I hear what?  I suppose my blank expression said I obviously hadn't heard.  So he was the one who told me that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York City, just minutes before.  I remember thinking how odd and how sad such an event was. 

We walked into the office, and I immediately turned on the clock radio sitting on my desk.  My boss had gone into his office.  The immediate words spoken from the radio said a second plane had crashed into the second tower.  He came out of his office, and our eyes met.  I know we were both thinking the same thing...  This is not a coincidence.  This is bad.  This is very bad. 

Our offices were actually located in a house set close to the University campus.  He had a class gathering downstairs.  I could hear the college students talking.  He went downstairs and turned on the television.  There was no television upstairs.  So I sat listening to every word that came from that little radio.  I called my husband, desperate to hear his voice, and feeling that we should be together.  I was frightened.  I simply wanted to be close to him.  I called my mom and my dad, and my sisters and brothers.  We were all frightened, but thankfully we weren't in New York. 

My work phone rang, and I was introduced to my boss's son.  He wanted to talk to his father.  When I was hired the week before, my boss had told me not to interrupt class except for emergency purposes.  I heard the fear in this young man's voice, and knew he needed to hear his dad.  I went downstairs and saw students crying as they were glued to the television.  I told my boss his son was on the phone.  His voice was trembly, but I could see the relief in his eyes when he spoke.

When he hung up, he told his students class was over.  He and I went back upstairs.  I turned the radio off while he made phone calls.  My cell phone rang.  It was my husband telling me that a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon.  Apparently my boss heard this at the same time.  He came out of his office and told me to go home... 

I quit that job less than a year later, when I was pregnant with my first child.  I haven't seen that man who was my professor and then my boss since.  But I will remember him forever, and I'm certain he will always remember me.  Where was I when the world stopped turning that September day?  I was at High Point University with Patrick Haun.  I will never forget...

In the days that followed that horrible day, as all Americans did, I felt helpless and distraught.  When I am overcome by emotion, I write.  This is what I wrote...

The Fall of Twin Sisters
written by Marci Lee Bray
September 25, 2001

My sister saw me wounded
for all the world to see,
how such a stable structure
could fall to bended knee.
There beside me, her broken twin,
for a moment she stood tall -
unaware of her ill fate,
and that she too would fall.
As she mourned for me so helplessly,
terror again took aim.
Without warning, sign or caution,
her heart burst into flame.
We cried out in anguish,
for we felt each other's woe.
Our entire beings ached within
as the fire began to grow.
I watched my sister get weaker.
I knew she would soon lose hope.
Without my sister beside me,
there, alone, I could not cope.
I tried so hard not to buckle.
I tried to stand with pride.
I looked over to my sister,
but she was no longer at my side.
And so I too gave up the fight.
I surrendered to defeat.
The twins who filled the New York sky
stumbled to our tired feet,
leaving behind death and destruction,
a world fill with sorrow and grief,
and a nation with unanswered questions
in a state of disbelief.