11 September 2006
My 9-11 story
What I am about to type has never been written down nor have I had the desire to write about it. But things have changed since that dreadful day. Since then, I have had children, left the corporate world, moved across the country and started a blog.

At this point in my life I think it is time for me to write down the events that occurred on that tragic day. Not only will this be theraputic for me but it will also be something to hold onto for my children when they begin to ask questions about the day "America was under attack".

Like many of you, I woke up that morning and got ready for work. I kissed my husband goodbye as he was headed to DFW airport to catch his 6:25am flight for a business trip. This was a typical morning in our household because John has traveled for his job(s) ever since I met him.

After arriving at work a co-worker and great friend of ours stopped by my cubicle to say hi like he did every morning. However, this morning he looked a little different. We exchanged a few words and then he said, "wow, it's been a crazy morning hasn't it?" I guess I looked at him a little puzzled because in response he said, "you mean you didn't hear?" Of course, still looking puzzled, I said, "hear what?"

The words he was about to utter next was about to change my life forever...

He said, "An American Airlines flight just flew into the World Trade Center". I think I turned white because the next thing he said with a very frightened voice was,

"Where's John?"

My heart sunk, as I replied, "On an American Airlines flight to Boston".

Immediately, I hopped on the phone and tried to call his cell phone (like he could really answer it IF he was still on the plane.) As I hung up the phone my direct line started to ring erractically. His family and mine knew that John was usually in flight somewhere first thing Tuesday mornings. After about the third call from family panic started to set in for several reasons. First, I did not know John's flight number, nor did I know if his plane in trouble, and I still didn't know if he had landed yet. As I turned on the radio at my desk to get updates from the news slowly my cubicle became a "waiting room" for others worried just like me. Patiently waiting to find out if John was safe or not. The last update I heard on the news was that an AA 757 headed from Boston to L.A. was slammed into the World Trade Center and that all other flights were instructed to make emergency landings immediately. They also announced that only 5 flights left in the air that were still unidentified. I didn't know what "unidentified" meant but I knew it wasn't good. My heart began to pound faster and the tears were starting to shed.

My office phone rang again and this time it was John's mother. She said in a shakingly voice, "Theresa, what are you doing?" Crying hysterically I said, "Trying to find my husband!" Words that I thought I would never utter in this lifetime. I quickly let her know that I had to go call his office and find out his flight number and I that I would call her once I knew something. So when I finally reached the secretary at his work she had no idea what flight John was on. I remember being SO irritated with her as she said in the most calm voice,

"Theresa, I'm sure he's okay. Don't worry".

She obviously was not aware of the severity that was going on in the world that morning as I was crying on the other end. All I knew was that he was on a 757 AA jet from Dallas to Boston and that it left somewhere around 6:30. I also knew that the plane that hit the first tower was a 757 AA jet leaving Boston. I thought to myself if she (the secretary) can't tell me what flight he's on I'll do it myself! So, I decided to go to FlightTracker.com and see if I could find out what the exact flight John was on. The first flight that came up was AA flight 1060 from Dallas to Boston and showed it was still in the air.

The ironic part about this whole thing was that John use to tell me about FlightTracker.com and how cool it was if I ever wanted to see where he was in the air on a flight. I would always laugh at him being the techie guy that he is, that only HE would think this was cool. Little did I know then, that this website was going to take me through the most scariest moment in my life. I watched that little screen on my computer so closely my eyes would hurt. When I pulled up the site, it showed what I thought was John's flight at 37,000 feet altitude, speed was 481 knots, departed at 6:40am, arriving in Boston at 10:46am with Boston still highlighted on the map as its destination.

After a few more minutes I started taking a few more calls from family and friends who were calling to get updates. I told them that we could not get John's flight information from his work because he booked it himself online. I mentioned to them that I was tracking AA flight 1060 online but I was not sure this was the one.

This is where things started to spiral downward even futher. As I was tracking the flight it was not in "'realtime" so therefore I had to refresh the screen about every five minutes to see any changes. For the next fifteen minutes I found my finger glued to the F5 key on my keyboard. The first time I refreshed it showed flight 1060 changed destinations and now Cleveland-Hopkins airport was showing as the final destination. What? What happened to Boston? Not only had his flight destination changed but his altitude dropped from 37,000 feet to 32,000 feet. I started to get more nervous and upset as the information began to change. About five minutes later I refreshed the screen again too see even more horror. Now it read destination Akron-Canton airport and altitude went from 37,000 feet to 5,000 feet in a matter of minutes!

My heart was pounding and I began to sweat and panic.

The only thing I could think of was either his plane was hijacked or it was going to crash. That was of course if I was even watching the right flight!

My phone rang again. This time it was John's secretary. In a little more hestitant but caring voice she said, "Theresa we were able to find John's flight number. We found out he's on flight 1060. Did you hear me? He's on flight 1060." A small pause of relief came over me and I said, "yes, thank you that's the flight I'm tracking online. Thank you!"

*The picture posted above, I'm not sure why but for some reason a co-worker of mine took a screen shot of the flight I was tracking on FlightTracker.com that morning. If you can see the detail it shows John's flight in the air on 9-11-01 and it's Boston destination.

On top of all this, the other panic feeling I had was for John. Knowing that even though he traveled every week for a living he did not like to fly. I always teased him when we traveled together by holding his hand during take off and landing because I knew every time I would get a sweaty palm in mine.

As the minutes ticked by my heart continued to race and my panic continued to grow. Since I grew up in Ohio I knew where Akron-Canton airport was and it was just a regional airport. I also knew that their runways were TOO small for a 757 plane to land there. So it only meant one of two things. Either it was making a true emergency landing or it was hijacked. I continued to refresh my screen but nothing was changing.

Finally, my phone rang again...

It was John! He said, "Hi honey". I started to cry again. Oh to hear his voice I cannot describe the feeling. I then, turned to the large audience that developed around my cubicle that morning and said, "it's him"!

After making sure he was on the ground and okay, I made the typical phone calls to family and friends. I then went to my boss and told her I was leaving work and headed straight home. After I arrived home, I turned on the news and watched it and cried (10 hours of it!) I specifically remember watching Diane Sawyer live as the second tower hit. I still could not believe what was happening that day. Although, I do remember thanking God repeatedly for John landing in Akron, Oh. This was definitely not coincidence. It was only by the grace of God that John's flight made an emergency landing in my hometown where my family was able to pick him up and be with him which would be for the next week and a half. With no rental cars available I thank God that he was able to be with my family during this horrific time.

I, on the other hand had one of the loneliest weeks of my life. I still can't quite remember it all it was such a blur. However, I do remember watching the news every day from the time I got home from work until I literally passed out at night. I remember being by myself with no family and no neighbors. Three of my friends on the block were stuck in other states with no return flights. I finally got to see my husband 10 days later after finally getting with a co-worker from Boston and driving from Ohio to get home. I do remember putting in a VCR tape and recording the news that day for the next 10 hours for John. I don't think he has watched it to this day.

Also, if you ever read any specific details about the flights that day you may see John's flight AA 1060 mentioned in the reports. This is because his flight was the one flying in behind United Flight 93 that crashed in PA. Actually, the pilots of his flight were the ones that identified/confirmed Flight 93 was "a puff of smoke on the ground".

Like so many, this is a day we all will never forget. My heart goes out to the families and friends victims who did not survive that tragic day.

* As part of my 9-11 tribute my husband wrote his story about that day. Scroll down to the next post to read his account of what happened. And, interestingly enough www.Flightracker.com is no longer available.
**Also, read other 9-11 posts from Shannon's Mr. Linky over at Rocks in my Dryer.

  posted at 10:48 PM  

At 10:53 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

Oh Theresa, what a scary thing to go through! I can't even imgaine what was going through your head during that time. I'm so glad that John was okay and made it through. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us!!

At 4:51 AM, Anonymous Jaime said...

Oh my! How scary! I'm so glad that John was okay. Thank you for letting us read your story.

At 6:08 AM, Blogger Alicia said...

I found your blog from Catherine's...thank you for posting your story.

At 6:36 AM, Blogger Mia said...

Wow. Thank you and your husband for sharing this. I'm so glad that your story had a happy ending.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Kate said...

ok T, you had me nervous until i got to the "hi honey"! that day changed all of us. thank you for sharing that horrible day with us. and your man summed it up perfectly in the last sentence - "make sure your priorities are in order for tomorrow is not guaranteed."
so true!

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

I just read your husband's story and now yours....how absolutely terrifying for you both!
Thank you so much for sharing this ordeal with us and of your first-hand experience. I wrote about all the fear I had on that day, but yours was founded on very real circumstances! I'm so glad the Lord was looking out for your husband!

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Southern Girl said...

Wow. Even though it's all over and I was pretty sure I knew it would turn out okay for you and John, as I was reading I could feel the panic rising in me. What a terrible thing you all had to go through, but how wonderful that the Lord was watching over John.

At 12:59 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

wow. amazing. thank you for sharing.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Addie said...

Even though I've heard this before, it STILL gives me chills! Glad to see John's account too!

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Gail said...

Wow, great stories from both of you! So hard to live through and I can't imagine what it would be like. Thanks for sharing your memories.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Heth said...

Oh my goodness. Thank you for writing this.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Jules said...

It was wrenching trying to read both yours and your husbands accounts fast enough. My heart is racing and it happened 5 years ago. This is probably due to the fact that my hands sweat during take-off too. Thanks for sharing this. Praise God that he is able to tell his story today.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Barb said...

I can't begin to imgine how stressful it was for you, both of you. And the thing that seems sad to me is that you couldn't be with each other for ten days. That was a long ten days for me and the only thing that comforted me was my family. I hope this was therapeutic for you, Theresa. I held my breath through both your posts.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger BooMama said...

I've heard this story before - but it was just as moving, just as haunting this time. I can't even imagine how you must have felt - and how happy you were to see your sweet hubby again.

At 6:10 AM, Blogger Paula said...

Wow. I am so thankful everything turned out alright for you and john. Thank you for sharing.

At 6:53 AM, Blogger Bessers said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes. Praise God that your husband was okay. I read both your and your husband's accounts. Wow. Thank you for sharing your stories.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger GiBee said...

Oh, goodness! I'm so sorry you experienced so much added stress. God certainly had his angels watching your husband, you and your family!

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Erin said...

You don't know me but I wanted to tell you about the impact you and your husband made on my life today. I was going through Works for Me Wednesday and found your post on cleaning your jewelry. I loved it, so I hit "copy" and then pasted it in a Word document to print later for my Mommy notebook. When I scrolled through my notes, I noticed that I had copied all of your posts that were listed on that screen including your 9/11 post and your husband's 9/11 post. I read A LOT of posts on 9/11 (and even wrote my own) but none of them impacted me the way that your and your husband's did. I cried for what you both went through and I felt that day all over again. Thank you for sharing your experience that day with us. I look at life a little differently now. I'm off to hug my daughter and kiss my husband because you showed that "life can turn on a dime". Erin

At 9:00 PM, Blogger theresa said...

What a wonderful comment Erin. I got goose bumps from reading your comment. Thanks so much for commenting. I tried to get to your blog and there wasn't one listed so I'm responding to you here.

At 4:33 AM, Blogger Julie said...

Over here from Chappyswife comments. Your 9/11 story was probably the best one I've read. A real 'page-turner'.

What a tremendous blessing that your husband wound up in Akron with your family. God was truly watching over him!


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Name: Theresa

Location: The great state of Texas

I'm a Christ follower, wife, mama, daughter and sister. I am married to my best friend and we have two precious girls ages 6 and 4. We are happily living in Texas. I love sewing, photography, new running shoes, iced tea and never turn down Tex-Mex. I love spending time with my family, traveling, football season and most importantly, I love to laugh.

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