The Roar

“Something’s Missing”

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Back to Article

“Something’s Missing”

photography by Gwen Wilbanks

photography by Gwen Wilbanks

Gwen Wilbanks

photography by Gwen Wilbanks

Gwen Wilbanks

Gwen Wilbanks

photography by Gwen Wilbanks

Megan Allen

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I sit by the phone, not talking, not eating, not doing anything. I won’t get up, walk around, nothing. I have to be ready at a moment’s notice. Riiing! My hand shoots out and I hold it up to my ear. It’s only a telemarketer. I hang up without a word. There is no time for meaningless chatter. She could call at any moment in time. I don’t very well remember the last time I slept or how long I did, I certainly don’t remember the last time I ate. There isn’t any time. I must be ready.

It’s September 12, 2001, and I am in Canada. I was headed home, but now I’m stranded here with 7,000 other people. We have just heard what happened in New York, and we all cried for the lives lost, for the people who lost family and friends. I don’t have time to shed tears right now. My daughter, she was traveling to New York. She had arrived two days before, she went there for business. She was supposed to attend a meeting at 9:00. It was supposed to take place at the World Trade Center.

On September 11, 2001, a terrorist action took place at 8:46 on the World Trade Center, 14 minutes before my daughter was supposed to be in the meeting. I remember preaching to her the importance of punctuality, but for once I pray, I pray to every deity ever heard of, that she didn’t listen to me. Riiing! I am picking up the phone before I realize it. I hold it up to my ear, hearing nothing, and that’s when I notice that the phone next to me was ringing. Slowly, I put it back where it was.

She told me to take a vacation, she told me that she wouldn’t be home anyways, so I may as well get out of town. I listened to her. Why did I listen to her? I lay my head down on the table, and for the first time since we saw what happened, I let myself think about the possibility that she was in there, that she didn’t get out in time. Riiing! I throw my head up, but it was a phone across the room. I don’t continue the previous train of thought.

It is September 16, 2001, and I have just landed in New York. There is so much noise, so many police. Why are there so many people here? Isn’t the world still grieving? I push through the crowd of people and start running, and I am running to ground zero, and it is still burning. I frantically look around, hoping for something, anything that will hint at her being here. A cop grabs my hand, trying to calm me, but there is no time for that. He looks me in the eyes, and I can tell that he is trying to see if I’m another one. A terrorist, a killer. He looks me in the eyes, but then he softens and releases me. I think he knows. Someone tells me that there is a list of names at the closest hospital, and I am off like a bullet. For the first time in five days, I let myself start crying. I feel something, but no, it can’t be. I am running, and the tears are running, and I hear people calling and whispering, but I ignore it all. I get to the hospital, and there is the list, hanging on the wall. It is so long, so terribly long. I am searching, I’m looking for her name, and I’m on the last page, and I feel some hope for the first time. I’m going and reading as fast as I can, and then I’m at the end of the list. I take a breath, but then someone comes up and puts another list up. I look, and her name is at the top. It’s her name. Distantly, I hear a sob rip itself from my throat, I see myself crumple to the ground, but I am not there. I am with my little girl, my baby, and I want to stay there forever.

September 11, 2011. It is ten years since the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, ten years since my daughter left. I miss her so much, and as I fly back to Canada, she is all I can think about. As the plane lands in Gander, I see the 14,000 people, natives and come-from-aways, hugging and remembering each other, remembering all that was done for each other. I see all of this, and I see the donated steel from the World Trade Center, and I take a deep breath. I walk over to some of the natives who were particularly friendly and helpful and I smile and laugh, but then someone pulls me away, and I see the tomb, and I see her name, Margaret L. Benson. I am crying again, but this time, I know that she was found, and I know that she will forever be remembered. I know that she is here.

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