The Second Day After

June 16, 2021

I read this on KQED (San Francisco public radio) the week after September 11, 2001.

It is predawn on the second day after and the world is eerie and still. On a normal day, early-birds in the neighborhood start their cars to get a jump on their inboxes. On a normal day, a newspaper truck whines as it crawls the street in the pre-dawn hours, dropping its load with a thud at each driveway. But it is not a normal day.

This morning, I should be getting on an airplane to fly across the country, as I do every month for my job. My airplane is not flying to Florida today and I’m not sure I want to. Ever. Tomorrow morning, I was to be sitting at a conference table in Tampa, closing on a small condo. Instead, my realtor is trying to figure out how we can close on time, without long-distance mail or Fed Ex. Today, I receive email from the mortgage broker, a woman I’ve never met. I open it, expecting more information about closing. Instead, it is a prayer. Strangers just a week ago, separated by thousands of miles, we are united in our grief.

On cable, I watch German television. Flowers and candles carpet the front of our embassy. Germans are crying in the streets, telling reporters that they are horrified and sad for America.

My sister emails and says she’d heard that the American national anthem was played at the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Unexpectedly, I tear up. On the morning of the second day after, the first cadre of firefighters and police leave the site to return to their regular jobs. New Yorkers line the streets applauding, yelling out “Thank You”, “God Bless You” and “We will survive.”

I can hear the TV from my office, but my husband calls me in to watch. A mother holding the hand of a young girl tells a reporter “I want my daughter to know that there are good people in the world, as well as bad ones. “My husband tries to speak and can’t. He sobs. We hold each other and continue watching, like everyone else in the country.

With a Perspective, I’m Carol Cassara.

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