That’s what my uncle Marco said to my mother the morning of September 11th, 2001. Marco works for the Port Authority of NY and NJ, whose headquarters were in the World Trade Center. He was there for the 1993 bombing as well. He was calling my mom to check if they were still going to meet up at Windows on the World to get some lunch.
He hung up, and in a moment of panic and fear that her brother wouldn’t make it, she called the last person I ever thought she would: her mother. The relationship between the two was a tense one at best. When we moved out of Newark in 1995, my mother stopped all contact with her. I’d sometimes go and visit my abuela to help clean up the house, but there was no mentioning of my mother when I would sit down at night and watch TV with her. That’s six years of silence broken by the sound of a 767 smashing into the Twin Towers. For me, that encapsulates the true power of that day.
Marco made it out alive with no injuries, but one of his coworkers, Pete Negron, did not. I never met him, but my mother had, so she had my sister print out a photo of him holding his baby son. It’s still there, next to all the other family photos on the end table in the living room. When the anniversary comes around I wonder how he’s doing. I’m wondering how the kids who lost a parent on that day are doing today.
[ Update: I just found out that he had two sons.One was 2 years old and his older brother Pete was 11 when their father died. He spoke about his father at a speech commemorating those that died ten years ago, you can see it here.]
I remember where I was that day, but the image of my mom on the phone and my uncle running past the horror of injured people in the stairwells are the only ones that have stuck in my head. I’m trying my best not to make this a patriotic message, too many horrible things have happened since to go down that path. What I’ll keep my mind on today is family. I hope you are as well.