Thirteen Cars

September 11, 2006 @ 5:52 pm | Filed under:

What I remember is September 12th. Beanie had a doctor’s appointment in Queens, so I was driving west on Long Island, staring at the distant smoke that still rose in heavy plumes where the Towers had been. They were ghost towers now, made of smoke and ash. On the way out of my neighborhood I had to pass our town’s train station. On any other weekday it would have been packed full at that time of day, but on this day it was almost deserted.

Later I learned that there were thirteen cars left in the parking lot of that train station after everyone else finally made it home on that terrible day. Thirteen cars. Thirteen dads. Thirteen holes in the hearts of families like ours.

Beanie is five and a half years old now. If her dad had been one of those thirteen drivers, she would not remember him. There would be no Wonderboy and no Rilla.

I don’t know their names, any of them, but today I am thinking about those thirteen men who parked at the station one morning just like any other, and didn’t get back in their cars at the end of the day. Those men, and their families, and those thirteen empty cars.

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7 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Monica says:

    What I remember most is how quiet the skies were. No airplanes at all for weeks.

  2. Katie says:

    We were living on Long Island at the time. I remember thinking something was wrong with the Earth’s gravity. I couldn’t believe these things were intentional. I will remember the look on Father Tom’s face as he informed us that our pastor’s brother worked on one of the floors that was directly hit, my friends whose husbands were NYC firefighters, one of my CCD students who lost an aunt. We should never forget.

  3. Jen Robinson says:

    It’s definitely these personal, concrete things that really resonate, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing this one.

  4. Becca says:

    Wow. Being on the other coast, I didn’t have any direct, tangible effects from the day. The image of those thirteen cars haunts me.

  5. Nancy says:

    My husband was working that day in his new office located in the closest building next to the Pentagon. His office had just moved from the Pentagon 6 months’ prior, and I remember thinking how lucky we were that he had moved. A week later he told me that a 30 foot antenna on top of his building had been knocked over by the plane as it descended on the Pentagon. We were luckier than we knew.

    However, what most strikes me about that period is a young woman with an angelic voice who I interviewed for a job about a month prior. She was a United flight attendant, and wanted to work in a new field. She was tired of the travel, and seemed unhappy with her work. The position was customer service oriented, and since she had also volunteered as a museum docent, I gave her serious consideration. Ultimately, though, I didn’t hire her. She wasn’t the right fit.

    Fast forward to mid October, 2001, and I was reading an article in the paper that interviewed relatives of those who died that day at the Pentagon. This woman’s fiancé was interviewed, and it dawned on me that she had still had her job as a United flight attendant, and was working that day. He mentioned her “sweet voice”, which I connected with right away. And I felt as if the roof crashed around me because she could have been working with me that day, instead of a job she disliked. How horrible it must be to have a job you dislike, let alone die doing it.

    Thirteen cars and thirteen men is a compelling image. But, I’m haunted by one woman’s voice.

  6. KC says:

    What a haunting image.

  7. Mary Beth P says:

    We had moved from NYC to Massachusetts by then, but having looked at those two towers everyday for years, it really haunted me. ON Sept 12th, as I was taking Richard (who was almost 3) to preschool he said :”Are they going to knock down the building I am in?” Wow! We were all touched by the horrors of that day! We should never forget!