Remembering

Empathy is a powerful human trait. A gift and at times a curse. It’s part of what makes us human.

Ten years ago, I felt thousands of people die horrible deaths. For me, what was worse was that I felt the loss of everyone they left behind. The widows and orphans, lovers, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and friends.

My wife Carol got a call from her sister saying that a plane hit the WTC. That's terrible, I thought. I pictured a little Cessna, a 2 or 4 seater, like the one that hit the Empire State Building years ago.

I went back to sleep.

A half hour later, Carol woke me up to tell me that they were gone. I asked who was. She was crying.

"The towers. They're both GONE."

I pulled on some clothes and we went downstairs to watch the news. Because of the time difference, it was still pretty early in California. Like everyone, I saw the footage of the 2nd plane hit and then the two towers collapsed, one after the other.

I pictured the man that I used to see at the Hudson News stand underneath the WTC when I would take that train in from Jersey City to Manhattan. I was afraid he'd died. I worried about my friends who lived or worked in the city-- Jesse and Jeff & Chrys and Kenny and Maurice--and tried to remember who'd moved away. I had been living in California for seven years by this point with my wife and kids.

When the towers fell, I was sure 50,000 people had lost their lives. I would learn later that there was time for a lot of people to get out and because of the early hour and the fact that it was election day; it was emptier than it might have been.

My mind raced with terrible possibilities. An attack on Los Angeles, Chicago; Atlanta to take out CNN.

The CDC...The Center for Disease Control. If you were going to REALLY try and spread death, crack open the lab that holds the nastiest germs, viruses and diseases known to man and let 'em float around.

My boys were just shy of being 13. They'd never seen me cry outside of my parents' funerals. But Carol and I did cry at the loss of all of those people.

Then I thought about repercussions. Would this bring back the Draft? If this lingered on, we could still be at war in 5 years and my boys would be of age. They could be sucked into and possibly killed in this mess.

We reached friends back East (though not in NYC) and talked and shared our thoughts and fears.

I shut the office down for the day.

I was working on the sound for my first film, FROST-- sound designing an early sequence in the movie where American CIA agents are assisting Afghanni rebels in fighting the Russians. I was sick to my stomach. For a few weeks, I asked myself if creating action/violent stories was the right thing for me to do. Was I a part of a bigger problem, or was it escapist fantasy that helped and entertained.

In the coming days, I watched far too much CNN, I spoke to my friends in NYC and heard their tales of running North from the Wall Street Area, rumors of bombs in Time Square and Central Park and how they couldn't get out of the city. But they were all OK...

Four days before the tragedy, I had signed a contract to write, direct, edit and produce an action/thriller about a submarine in the Indian Ocean that was actually a Biological Weapons Lab being run by Iraquis in a sub they bought from the Chinese. It dealt with a flesh-eating virus.

That project went away.

In time, I worked again without always thinking about 9/11.

The war has drug on far too long, but there has been no draft and my boys are almost 23 now, bright, talented and alive.

There have been no attacks on Los Angeles, the CDC or Chicago. And I hope there never will be.

From time to time, I think back on that Tuesday morning.

I think there was time and enough notice for people in the tunnels. I hope that man who ran the newsstand made it out OK.