Just about ten years ago I was at work (I worked for an automotive-related company. My "office" was a trailer in the middle of the shut down manufacturing floor. It constantly smelled of exhaust and everything had a dull yellow glow because of the fluorescent lighting.) when I heard about a video some people had seen online of a plane crashing into one of the twin towers. It was just a snippet, but it was being played over and over on almost every computer. Then we heard about another plane. And another.
I had relatives in New York, but they were on Long Island, so, I was convinced that they were far enough away from all of the craziness to be out of harm's way.
I called my boyfriend to tell him what was happening. He had taken a vacation day and was working on things around the house. He turned on the news and kept it on.
While I was at work trying to understand what was going on, my parents were on a plane from Guadalajara to New York so they could be at my father's college reunion that coming weekend.
Lots of people had died on the planes, more people were dying in the towers, and I couldn't think about them at all. I just wanted to know my parents were safe.
I called my relatives in New York, but no calls were getting through. I didn't know who else to talk to, to ask for help. I wasn't sure which airline they were flying. I felt helpless and terrified.
People were slowly working throughout the day and (of course) talking about the news. But I kind of wanted to stand up on a desk and shout "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? How can you even pretend to work? I need to know where my parents are!"
Many hours later I got a call from my parents. They'd been grounded in Houston because that's the airport they were closest to when the news got out about what happened. I was so relieved to hear from them.
Knowing that my parents were safe allowed me to stop thinking about them (and myself) really think about what had happened and what was happening to other people's families.
And listening to NPR this week is making me think of it again.