Tuesday, September 11th, 12 years ago today, is still a vivid memory. It was a beautiful fall morning at the Flushing Memorial tennis courts and tennis players cheerfully played and chatted, basking in the glorious late summer morning sun. I sat looking on in new motherhood bliss as my pink newborn bundle slept soundly in my arms. Someone came by and mentioned something about a plane driving into a building in Manhattan but the news did not disturb the peaceful setting and no-one was concerned.
It happened almost instantly, as the news began to sink, a terror crept in. Tennis players abandoned their games for the radio in their cars. Within minutes the tennis courts were empty and deserted, melting breakfast sandwiches and water bottles in soaked through paper bags remained.
Puzzled, I strolled over to my scurrying husband and we shared an uncertain and scared hug, both of us holding our newborn, each of us trying to grab as much of her as possible. A silent drive brings us to a standstill on the highway, in front of Shea Stadium, and everyone is out of their cars observing the bellowing and lonely second tower.
“One of them completely collapsed.”
“This one will fall too.”
“How do you know?”
“What the hell is going on?”
The top of the tower caves and the whole building collapses in front of our eyes. The world around us turns white. The crumbled building echoes through the Boroughs and the shaking ground wakes the sleeping babe in my arms. Anastasia begins to cry and her tiny voice pierces the silence.
“Oh, my God!”
“Eric, what are we going to do? We have to protect her!” He kisses my forehead, pulls us close and with tear filled eyes declares: “Nothing will harm you or her!”
Shocked and dazed we all returned to our cars and forced ourselves away from the nightmare scene of Manhattan’s smoke filled skyline. Patriotism was at an all time high and we couldn’t find a flag anywhere, Astoria was busy and people scurried, bargaining for flags. Eventually, we paid $50 for ours and proudly hung it from our passenger window.
Today, I wish I could remember more and and I wish my phone at the time had a camera to capture the memories for Anastasia. My sweet pink bundle will forever contrast the darkness that ensued that day along with the memory of her cry as the second tower caved. We had each other and our budding family, scared and unsure we displayed emotion, comforted and sought comfort from fellow neighbors and New Yorkers.