“That guy survived 9/11!!”……….
A couple of younger kids brushed past me on the way down to the gym during lunch break.
“He was one of the only survivors”
13 years after that awful day and there’s not a single day goes by I don’t stop and think for a second, and am thankful I have my health and my family and friends close by!
I didn’t survive 9/11 – I wasn’t in New York on that day. The kids had overheard a rumour that I nearly got on one of the ill-fated planes and that I had changed my mind last minute.
This wasn’t the case.
But my Virgin flight from LA to London was one of the last to be airborne that day! Possibly the very last!
Somewhere over Nova Scotia the Pilot came on the airwaves to say
“We believe something has happened in New York which has delayed all other flights home. There will be messages on the boards at Heathrow. If you are making your own way home I suggest you contact your relatives to inform them of any delays as soon as we get you inside the terminal”
At the time I thought it was a little odd, and given my history of being a pretty bad flyer (scared of heights… and planes!) I must admit feeling a small lump in my throat starting to grow.
When we hit the tarmac, the sense of relief was palpable!
I looked to my left and right at all the frequent flyers – the older generation just seem to take flying at 35000 feet in a metal tube filled with flamable liquids as if it were the most natural thing in the World. lol. I love that, which is why I always try and find a really kind looking elderly lady to make eye contact with when turbulence hits. Either that or I squeeze my wife’s hand, hard!…
… Anyway, I looked around (this was my second flight ever!) and even though we had landed safely, everyone, including my usual comforters looked a bit twitchy!
We arrived some 15 minutes later in the main terminal and it was bedlam! I’ve never experienced anything quite like it!
People were just standing looking at the big screens and either staring with disbelief, or crying! Some were running around screaming – it was pandemonium! Everybody was depserately trying to reach loved ones to either confirm they had landed or to try and check up on the people they had left on the other side of the Atlantic.
I struggled to get to a payphone. I think my mobile phone must have gone dead.
I called my mum back home!
She wasn’t hysterical but I could tell by the tone of her voice she had either been crying or she was worried! My mum always was a worryer, so I tried not to panic her!
“I made it back ok mum – there wasn’t much turbulence on the way”
“Are you watching the big screens?” she asked.
And while I was on the phone the first tower literally crumpled before my eyes!
I don’t think i’ve ever been unable to speak before….
When I finally arrived home and burst through the door to be greated by a huge sigh of relief from mum, the second tower fell!
I didn’t survive 9/11
It would be ludicrous to suggest so. And extremely insulting and insensitive to all those who lost their lives that day, and to the absolute heros that either risked their lives to save other people less able than themselves, or to any of the emergencty services who did everything in their power to limit the casualties.
But in my own way I was in the sky that day, going home to my family, while unbeknown to me many, many hundreds of others would not make that trip.
When i’m feeling a little low, or need a bit of inspiration I think back to Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 and i’m thankful for what i’ve got.
I don’t mind admitting that for the second time this week i’m more than a little teary-eyed!
I may have had a lucky escape. Maybe my flight was never in the plan – I guess it was always going the wrong way.
Sometimes we get a little wrapped up in our own mini dramas and we forget the big picture.
Next time you have a petty quarrel with a loved one, or a close friend, ask yourself this.. If there weren’t here tomorrow how would you feel?
Life’s too short sometimes!
This is my (abridged) recollection of that day. I wonder what yours is!
Wherever you are today just be thankful you have your health!
Catch you on the flip side
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