In the Blink of an Eye

LKKelly Photo 6 DSC_0018aaI have needed to write this for a very long time, and today, I finally did so.  

In the Blink of an Eye…

We do our loved ones a disservice by telling them that we will protect them, and that nothing would ever happen to them. Why? We would be lying. Instead, we should tell them that our entire world can crash down around us in…the Blink of an Eye.

On September 11, 2001, we never saw the truth of this as well as this day.

In the Blink of an Eye…

The phone rang at work long before the doors opened for our patients.

“Kim! Quick! Turn on the TV in the reception room! We’re under attack! We’re under attack!”

For only one second, I was paralyzed as I sat staring at the receiver I had just slammed down on its cradle. The next thing I knew, I was running up the hallway to tell everyone, only to find that several others had been notified. We ran into the reception room, and one of the girls turned on the TV.

Complete silence rained down on us as we stood watching the horrifying scene before our eyes. A plane flew directly into the WTC, and the building exploded. How it managed to stand at that point, I had no idea. Of course, it was a replay of the first incident.

The news anchors were truly professional in their coverage, but they couldn’t hide the shock in their eyes and voices. This was the first attack. Discussion back and forth revealed that it never entered their minds that this was an attack. That’s when the second plane dove into the second tower – live! None of us could believe what we were seeing. While we sat stunned, and silent, we were all thinking the same thing. Is this real? No! It can’t be real! It’s some sort of joke! But, deep down, we knew it wasn’t.

True terror broke out in our little room, and even more obvious…on TV. The anchors kept asking if this was an attack, but like us, our brains weren’t connecting.

Then, the next plane crashed into the Pentagon. At that point, realization, finally, grabbed us in the grip of terror unlike any of use had ever felt. We were under attack. There was no other option. But, if so, WHERE would it end? That’s the question that kept going around and around in my mind. Answer was? The next plane was on its way to Washington after it turned in the opposite direction.

This plane was taken down by the people on the plane after several called their loved ones on their cells – something we are not allowed to do. These people chose to go down to keep who knows how many people from being killed in the end. True heroes are never born. They are made in the moment of choice. The plane crashed into a field. All planes were grounded. We will probably never know how many more planes were actually going to crash into other major government areas.

In the Blink of an Eye…

It was time to open our office doors, so we all went to our places in silence, and dazed. None of us wanted to be there, because of the feelings we were all holding, but were unwilling to express. The idea of talking was abhorrent to us, but we knew that wasn’t possible. No matter what, our days would go on, our lives would continue, but something inside of us changed that day – with just a blink of the eye. One second, all was normal, the next second, it would never be the same again. Like a person who has had his home invaded, our home just felt no longer safe.

First, I grabbed my cell phone to call my husband and my daughter. For the next two hours, I could not reach them, and I was beside myself, but I went through the motions of my job as patient representative and collector. I had a radio in my office, which I turned on to listen to see if another attack was coming. Once all the planes were grounded, the chances of that dropped to almost zero. But, that still didn’t stop that tightness in my chest that made breathing so hard, and that knot in my stomach wouldn’t let me eat that day. When my husband answered after a couple of hours later where I discovered he had been trying to call me as well, my chest eased a bit. Then, I finally talked to my daughter, and it eased up even more. She, too, had been trying to reach us. At that time, she was covering everything for her college TV station.

In the Blink of an Eye…

I listened to the radio all day long hoping that is was over, only to find out it wasn’t – not by even a mile! No. Some experts were brought on the air, and suddenly, I heard them say they hoped that the Towers would not collapse! Again, I was stunned speechless. I stopped what I was doing, and stared out the thin window in my office. And, then, in the middle of the “what ifs”, I heard them yell that it was going down! One of the towers was going down. At this point, I know they had mentioned flight numbers and towers, etc., but I was fixated on planes crashed, and tower collapsing. My heart sank into my shoes when I heard the horror in the voice on the radio as he described what was happening. It didn’t make a difference that I had never been to New York, or DC or even Pennsylvania. As far as I was concerned, everyone of those people were my brother and sister. We came from many different countries and races. We were different colors. But, that didn’t matter at all. We were one, because we were Americans. We may bend, but we do not break. It’s our diverse culture that makes us so strong.

And, then, I just waited. The other one was coming down, too. I knew it. There was just no doubt in my mind at all. Later, we would see the horrific scenes of people jumping instead of burning to death. At this point, I had not seen the TV, but even our patients couldn’t speak that day. It was as silent as the grave, except for what we had to do. I spoke several more times to my husband and daughter. We needed reassurance that we were as OK as possible. It was the only certainty that we had that day.

In the Blink of an Eye…

When we came home, my husband and I – like billions of others – sat in front of our TV as if we were in some type of spell. And, perhaps, we were. We couldn’t take our eyes off of it. I saw everything that had happened that I had not seen while listening to the radio. We went through the motions of eating, but not tasting anything. Sleep was long in coming that night, and quite frankly, I doubt anyone in this country slept.

And, for One Moment in time, Just One Moment…

Everyone on TV were covered in a gray dust. Suddenly, I was reminded me of a line out of “Volcano”.

They all look the same,” the little boy told the officer holding him, who had asked him if he saw his Mom.

And, for just one moment in our history and time, just one moment? Everyone was a “gray”. We were all the same: the same color, same people, same faith, same life, but only ONE PEOPLE! While we all knew that we would return to our silly bickering about everything and the kitchen sink, just for just this ONE MOMENT in time? We truly were ONE!

In the Blink of an Eye…

Life can change in just the single moment of a blink of an eye. We almost have little time in the short life that we are granted upon this Earth. Why waste the short time that we do have?

Everything changed that day. Everything. Instead of arguing, we need to be vigilant, because what happened on 9/11 could easily happen once again – only this time? The outcome could be a lot worse. And, it can all happen…

In the Blink of an Eye…


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