How do we get the kids?
I walked into my office at the National Museum of Natural History from the Metro to find my colleagues all at one computer looking stunned. I said "What's up?" I had not heard anything nor registered smoke from the Pentagon.
As I joined them to watch the wreckage I immediately thought "my brother and sister--who is pregnant--both live in Manhattan. Are they alright?" I started calling to endless busy signals, called my parents in VA who were in a daze having one child in DC and two in Manhattan. They had not heard from my brother or sister. I called my husband who also worked in the museum and he was so glad to hear my voice, know I was ok and we both were like "how do we get the kids?". Back out in MD, one in elementary school and one in daycare.
We did not want to even consider getting on the Metro and the word we were hearing was it was not even running. We finally decided to just start walking. We lived in Silver Spring, MD. We headed out and up to North Capitol St. and for a long time we just held hands and barely said anything. It was just too much to comprehend and we felt this great necessity to get to the elementary school as soon as possible. It was warm, our feet were starting to hurt, my bag was getting heavy, we weren't holding hands anymore. We got up to the part of North Capitol where the Smithsonian had its greenhouses--on the grounds of what was known as the Old Soldier's Home. Looking up at a truck coming down an exit onto North Capitol we recognized the face--a staff member from SI Gardens, a friend--Cheyenne. "What are you guys doing?"
"Trying to get to Cresthaven Elementary School before it closes and get our son". "Hop in". He drove us well out of his way to the school just as they started letting the students out. We were there to meet Nick in time. We profusely thanked Cheyenne and spoke of this day over and over whenever we ran into him. He was our savior, our rescuer. We hugged Nick, walked around the block to pick up Luke at daycare, he was only 4 at the time, and up the street to home. And started to watch the carnage on TV, not over and over but enough to learn what happened. My sister and brother and families also had journeys to get home in NYC but they were all well. That night, along with millions of others in the US, I lit candles and I put them all along my deck and I felt like I was really a part of the message--we are here, we survived, my family is well, our nation is strong and resilient, you failed.