I was a busy mom of two young daughters when the planes hit the Twin Towers on September 11th. I hadn’t turned on the television that morning as we were rushing to get out the door to daycare and school and work. I walked into my office to see the faces of my colleagues watching in horror as the plane crashed into the second tower. My coworker said, “Oh my God, we’re under attack!” All I could manage was a whisper…
My parents and younger sister had been vacationing in Europe. They had spent time in my mother’s beloved England, travelled to Paris where my sister lit a candle for me at Notre Dame, and then made their way to Italy. As they were walking in Florence, they caught a glimpse of a television showing a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. It was many hours before they were able to get a telephone call through to me. When I heard my sister’s voice, I sobbed with relief. But my relief was short-lived. My sister said,
“How could they have such good footage of it? How did anyone know the plane was going to crash into the World Trade Center in enough time to get such clear video of it?”
My heart sunk as I explained…
Sister. What you saw was the second plane hitting the second tower. Planes are crashing everywhere. It’s not safe at home. Air traffic is grounded. No flights in or out. Americans are hated. Stay in the hotel until we can get you out safely. I love you.
It would be more than a week before my family was able to fly from Rome to London and then on to the United States. As they entered the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, Italian soldiers lined every wall – each soldier armed with automatic weapons at the ready. My mother looked at my father with shear terror in her eyes. My dad put his hand on her shoulder and said, “Just keep moving. We will be alright. Just keep moving.”
When Stephen was arrested, I didn’t tell my parents right away. Things were escalating quickly and were changing by the hour, sometimes by the minute. I was panicking. I was furious. I was terrified. But I didn’t want my parents to know any of that – I didn’t want them to worry. It was important that I tell them in person when the time was right. When that day came, I sat down in their living room and began…
I have some difficult news to tell you.
As I laid out the events that changed our lives in an instant, my dad quietly wept. He listened intently as I described a life that wasn’t quite what it had appeared to be. That what he was now seeing was the second plane. Things were crashing everywhere. It wasn’t safe at home. I was hated.
As his voice shook with emotion, he bared his soul. With a heart clearly broken he told me that he was so sorry that I had been suffering in silence. That he had always been, and would always be, there for me no matter what may come. That he loved me.
“Just keep moving. We will be alright. Just keep moving.”
I love you Dad.