Monday, February 18, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 14

We were all wearing our emotions on our sleeves that morning.  A lot of things flowed through our minds like water through a broken dam; things like fear and worry.  I have chosen to refer to our family as "passionate" whereas your dad chose to say we were a bunch of loons.  I think some actions that morning would coincide more along your dad's terminology.  Rainee and Haley got locked in a heated conversation that resulted in Rainee hitting Haley over the head with the hotel directory/menu.  Mark kept one of them in one room while I took the other in the separate room.  After a few minutes of rationality, we did what the Whiting's always do at stressful times.  Rainee walked back into Haley's room and said "Let's go eat."  To which Haley replied, "Okay." 

I marvel my darling boy, that our family can still carry on a conversation with each other let alone be as close knit as we are when with all the silly, stupid things we have said and done.  I guess the fact we are all "loons" at one time or another prevents us from throwing rocks in our glass houses. 

We all went down to the hotel restaurant and had lunch and tried to come up with some kind of a plan.  Staying longer in New York had really not been factored into our budget, not with our rooms costing $299.00 a night each. 

When we got back to our room, I called Jet Blue and told them our situation.  Jet Blue stepped right up to the plate telling me they would pay for our expenses until we could fly out.  They paid our for our hotel rooms, meals at the hotel restaurant, and even to have our clothes cleaned.  The generosity they offered us was so very much appreciated. 

We stayed in the hotel the better part off the day, afraid of the unknown of what might happen.  Finally we ventured out to find Time Square an eerie desolate.  The shoulder to shoulder people we had encountered the night before was no longer.  Everything had been shut down: the theaters, restaurants, gift shops, everything.  As we walked down Broadway, tears were brought to our eyes by the patriotism shown.  Hanging from upper story windows were sheets where upon was written "God Bless America." 

We looked down Broadway and saw the billowing smoke from the World Trade Center.  You and Susan walked down as far as you could go and found ashes covering everything.  Sheree and Charmane passed by a man standing on a crate, declaring the end of the world was upon us while  President Bush could be seen from the New York Times Tower declaring America would not tolerate such acts of terrorism.   The lullabye of Broadway: noise, traffic, and honking horns had been replaced with the nightmarish sounds of the sirens of firetrucks and ambulances. We would find out later, that the young man running the elevator who had taken us to the top floor of the WTC had been among the casualties, along with the pretty blonde girl who had helped take our photographs overlooking New York.  Putting faces to the lost added to the realization of the senselessness of the destruction.

Back in our hotel room, I found you looking out our window.  I placed my hand through your arm as you said "You could have all been killed and it would have been my fault."  I knew although I said everything I could to try and make you realize that it was not your fault,  you would take it and tuck it into the recesses of your mind where you harbored other guilts and would let it gnaw at you. 

Each morning we turned on the television to see if the airspace had been opened to allow us to go home.  Each day we would find we were still trapped.  We stayed close by our hotel for a couple of days until the restaurant food all started tasting the same.  We all agreed that we could think of nothing that would taste better than an ordinary bologna sandwich so we set off in search of a grocery store that was open to buy the makings.  People were venturing out again.  The sidewalks were filled once more.  I found it so strange that in a city of approximately eight million people, one of the ones Dan Rather's News would pick to interview would be me. 

We found a market, bought bologna, bread, mustard, Miracle Whip and potato chips and went back to our room to make our lunch.  A simple sandwich had never tasted so good. 

The concierge of the hotel called our room to tell us the cast and crew of "42nd Street" was putting on a free show for anyone who wanted to attend.  She asked if we would be interested and of course we were.  The show itself was wonderful, but when the cast came out for an encore carrying American flags, the audience erutped into cheering and clapping and whistling.  Tears streamed down my cheeks at the show of such patriotism and my heart felt as though it would burst.  I looked at my children and saw they shared my feelings. 

We kept making our calls home, reassuring our families that we were all okay.  We didn't know when we were going to be able to leave New York though and your dad was getting very nervous.  He called Jereme to ask him if he rented a motor home, if Jereme would be able to drive back to pick us up.  I told him it would do no good driving back as they would not be able to get into New York anyway. 

Finally, we got word from Jet Blue that we would be able to get a flight.  We were thankful, but we were also very apprehensive.  Was it truly safe for us to fly?

Getting through Security was long and tedious, but I was never more thankful to be inconvenienced.  Now, each time I fly, I appreicate the time spent going through all the x-raying or whatever else is required.  We sat at our gate for quite a while, waiting.  I had never been a racist in my life, but I must admit that at that time, I was wary when I saw anyone with dark skin.  I am thankful that feeling did not stay with me, for I know for every bad person of whatever color, there are far more good ones. 

When we made it through Security, you and Mark went to the restroom, and when you came out, I noticed you had taken off the sweatshirts you had both been wearing.  You had yours wrapped around your right arm and Mark had his wrapped around his left arm.  They both had been tied in place with shoelaces.  I would later find out you had done this in case there were any other terrorists aboard that might try and use box cutters the way the others had done.  Your theories were that if they attacked, you could block them with the arm with the sweatshirt while you took them down with your free hands. 

Can I just tell you how much I love you both and appreciate that you would devise and instigate a plan to keep us safe.  Even without needing to use it, the fact that you were willing to do so proved what heros you both were. 

We boarded our plane, but before we could take off we were informed by the pilot we would need to be detained for a while.  We had to wait until after "Airforce One"  had taken off. 

None of us slept on the way home.  We prayed a lot and kept watch.  So very thankfully, we made it safely back to Utah, our families intact.

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