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Plane Crash Puts Things in Perspective

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If you live in New York City, or watch CNN, you most likely know that a small private plane hit a condominium building today. The pilot, New York Yankee Cory Lidle, and co-pilot died.
At the time of the crash, I was four blocks south of the accident scene, in a doctor’s office at New York Presbyterian Hospital. I had the baby with me. Our older son was at home with a babysitter. While I was sitting in the waiting room, some office workers started talking loudly about an explosion and a fire across the street. A few minutes later, people started saying a plane had hit a building. I called my husband. He checked the internet and confirmed that it was a plane.
Here are the thoughts that went through my head. Am I safer inside, or outside? If I’m inside, what if the fire spreads to this building? If I’m outside, could there be another explosion? Why isn’t anyone telling us what to do?! Ironically, I was never too concerned that it was a terrorist incident.
The doctor I was supposed to see came out to talk to me. We decided we would do the appointment on another day, and we left. I had driven our car across the city to get to the doctor’s office, but now there was no way I was going to be able to drive back. The car was parked one block from the accident scene.
Outside, the street was a total mess. Caravans of fire engines, police cars and ambulances raced up York Avenue. Some people walked calmly, as if nothing at all was happening. But then there were others…TV news trucks trying to make their way through the traffic, videographers and photographers running with their gear, doctors running from the hospital towards the scene. Helicopters hovered overhead.
When I was a reporter, I used to be one of those people running towards the chaos, trying to get the best pictures, rushing to figure out what was happening. Now, I just wanted to get as far away, as fast as possible. I pulled the baby’s hat low over his ears to shield him from the noise, and started my manic-mama-on-a-mission walk.
As it turned out, the biggest risk at that point, was making it safely through the traffic. Everything was bumper to bumper, so crossing the street was a challenge. I made it home one hour later, walking in absurdly high heels, pushing the stroller in the rain, through Central Park on a narrow sidewalk not really meant for pedestrians.
Back home safely, I’m thinking about the two people who died, and the others who were hurt or had their lives severely disrupted. Tonight, all the petty things that I ususally worry about don’t seem so important. I’m not as concerned about the looming book deadline. I’m not analyzing the nutritional value of the Bortskerini’s dinner. So what if the baby wakes up again in the middle of the night. So what.
Tomorrow, we’ll get up far earlier than we’d like. Half asleep, I’ll breastfeed one baby while spoon feeding the other one. I’ll stumble my way through the morning and things will go on as usual. I’ll check my email, re-schedule that doctor’s appointment, and take our older son to school. And at some point, I’ll retrieve my car from the other side of town, and stare at the black scars on the side of a building that some people call home.



One Response to “Plane Crash Puts Things in Perspective”

I’m glad you are safe. I hope that you are mentally and emotionally better soon too.

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