..I was walking into the ABN-AMRO bank in Delft. It was market day when we decided to stop in Delft for some pancakes..so we needed cash. I don't think we really got the cash that day.
As I got in line and continued my casual conversation with my aunt, and my aunt and my other aunt and my grandma, I was oblivious that no one at the bank was working - they were staring at the television on the wall....A customer said "are you American? you have been bombed with airplanes, it is a tragedy - look at the news on the t.v."
We looked up at the Dutch news being televised. I listened to catch as much Dutch as I could to understand what was happening.
One of the tellers than said - "turn the channel for the Americans, turn it to CNN or BBC so they can hear and understand what happened." ..and so they did. And we stood in the lobby of ABM-AMRO and learned of the tragedy of 9/11 and how it effected the world. The Dutch women in the bank had tears of sadness and disbelief running down their cheeks.
It was then that my phone started ringing - my colleagues from my Dutch office started calling - "I know you are taking some days off to be with family visiting from the States - but oh, Tracy - get to a TV, something horrible has happened in New York."
It was also then that my family needed to use my phone to call home. Americans abroad needing to connect to their families in the US to know that they were okay. We all needed a safe connection that day. Listening to my Grandma talk to her love, my Grandpa on the phone...as tears rolled down her cheeks, as she vowed to never leave his side again til death did they part is what got me though.
Here was my Grandma, 73 years old - her first time out of the USA and away from her love...and without the full information of what happened and what could still happen, was now racked with fear of never seeing him again.
So, we went back to Amsterdam and the 5 of us holed up in my small apartment and watched CNN morning til night watching the events unfold. Periodically calling our loved ones in the States and ordering out for food. Taking a few strolls in the Vondelpark as we continued to have strangers approach us upon hearing out accents and offering their condolences to our Country.
It took a few more days for my family to be able to fly home - for there to be space and flying to be resumed. I remember all of us being a bit fearful of them flying. I know I held unto each of them just a little tighter that day as we said our goodbyes. I had an urge to go with them that day to be back on my Home soil just quickly again to know everything would be okay. I felt very alone that day they left.
I don't think my Grandma did ever leave Grampa's side again until she died 5 years later. They dutifully went to Mass every day after 9/11 - together praying for their families and the families effected by the tragedies of that day.
..and when I think about this day every year, I think about my Grandma and how brave she was to come overseas at 73 to visit her granddaughter. How I hope she never regretted that decision because of the events that unfolded during her stay, because having her with me to hold hands with and cry with on 9/11 meant the world to me. Every year now on 9/11, I can still feel her warm embrace.