July 17/18 1996
I was home alone .
My kids , aged 7 and 8 at the time must have been staying with one pair of grandparents or the other , as it was summer time , and I clearly remember being alone .
Around 2am the phone rings which startled me as I was falling into the first deep sleep of the night .
It was the voice of my husband , sounding pretty clear and right there next to me :
– “Hello , it’s me , everything is all right , please do not worry , but something happened and I wanted to let you know before you would learn about it on the news ! ” I’m sorry to wake you up but there was an accident here in New York with one of your planes ” . “Pay attention , it was not the 900 flight (New York – LIS) it is the 800 (New York-Paris) ” . ” I was afraid you would find out in the news and misunderstand it” . “It is bad , really bad , I’m watching the news now here at the hotel , I really doubt I can catch the 900 tomorrow back to LIS as planned , I will let you know when I can ” . “Are you ok ? baby moving ? kids allright ? take care , kisses , I love you ” .
I don’t think I will ever forget this call , the horrible images on the news , the deep deep sorrow for my fellow colleagues and all our passengers lost on that night , the anguish of their family and friends trying to find out if their loved ones had actually boarded that fated plane and what could have happened .
I could not do a thing but pray .
I couldn’t even help my Lisbon airport colleagues who were under an enormous stress and grief , besides an immense work load with all the cancellations and changes of routes plus a shortage of staff as some of them were immediately deployed to Paris , to help the CDG airport staff or to volunteer in the support group to the families of the victims .
I was at the time and since my fourth month into pregnancy on forced bed rest and on strong anti-contractions medication for my beautiful youngest baby girl , who inherited her father’s stubborn streak and kept on trying to be born well in advance of her expected date towards the end of September .
So , I prayed and I cried and I waited (told you before , I have a master’s degree in waiting) .
My husband came back from New York on our TW900 , I believe two days after , I managed to keep the stubborn girl inside me until the 1st of September , and she was born healthy and perfect .
But my sorrow for those passengers and my colleagues , and their families and friends ; and yes also for our beautiful plane so stupidly destroyed and our company that was never again the same , has not diminished in these 20 years .
And I also carry this guilt that I was not there to help .
Even if the reason for not being there was such a special one , and yes I was blessed with a very special daughter .
I realize this is a very selfish post but I needed to put it out there on the 20th year after the Flight 800 came down near Long Island on the 17th July 1996 .
May all rest in peace and may some peace have come to their families and friends .
ps : out it came , tears blurring my already poor sight , no editing , sorry .