Marian Wood: Two Planes and a Country Brought Together

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Two Planes and a Country Brought Together

By Marian Wood

Watching the sky for planes

Do you ever stare at the sky and watch planes flying overhead? Wondering where they are going? Holiday makers or business people?

Some people know the flight paths, times they left the airport, plane spotters taking photos and recording the times they land.

The sun worshippers that love to sit by a swimming pool or lie on a faraway beach. The people that save all their money for that one sunny holiday every year. Lying here now, watching the smoke trails in the blue sky, I’m glad that I’m not up there. They say flying is the safest way to travel, I’m not so sure.

Flight 11 — to Los Angeles

It was about eighteen years ago that my world fell apart. The most important man in my life had gone. Our last goodbye had been the evening of 10th September 2001. No thought that I would never see him again alive. Kissing me on the head and giving me a hug he had said,

“Goodnight, I will see you in a few days, Cutems.”

The next day I had skipped off to school with mum, preoccupied with thoughts of my friend, Hannah, and her new puppy. I was never allowed a puppy. Unaware that my world was about to change dramatically.


School had just started and I was doing my timetables when the head teacher, Mrs. Clark, put an announcement over the school radio system.

“Can the whole school please come to the Cafeteria.”

We all lined up excited. I was relieved to get out of math. As we filed into the Cafeteria the teachers were standing, hugging and crying. What had happened?

I remember it like it was yesterday. Mrs. Clark was sobbing, and her words still reverberate around my head.

“Two planes, one bound for Los Angeles, have been hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Centre. All passengers are dead.”

I had a stabbing feeling in my chest — my dad was going to Los Angeles today. He departed this morning. I need my dad. Looking around me, I felt anger as others were crying. They hadn’t just lost their dad. It’s now just me and mum.


I saw my teacher, Mrs. Wells, her face buried in her white hanky. Hannah sitting next to me, reached out her hand and touched mine.

“Lucy,” she said.

I looked at her shaking. “My dad, I want my dad, dad.”

Mrs. Wells heard my distress. She walked over and put her arms around me and now started crying harder.

“Lucy, my sister worked at the centre, those planes,” she stammered.

I couldn’t say anything. The pain was too much and I cuddled into her. Feeling her warmth as we sat shaking. Around me I could feel the torment. I wasn’t the only one to lose someone that I loved that day.

The television was on in the corner of the room, with the news showing the moment that the planes hit. I couldn’t watch it then, and I still can’t.

Present day

I have never forgotten that morning. Hannah has remained my friend. She helped me through the days that followed. Mum went to pieces for a while, and she and Mrs. Wells became friends. Alliances were made as the country came together. Mum tried to appear strong but I knew she was dying inside. Our lives changed forever; it was now just me and mum.

I was just ten years old when it happened. I’m now twenty-eight. Lying on the grass, my three-year-old, Sophie, is next to me. Pretending to be an angel, I can hear her laughing. Mum is sitting on a bench nearby. Time has moved on but we will never forget dad and the others who lost their lives that day.

Sophie knows all about her grandfather and what a great man he was. She knows how much we love him and will always visit his grave with me.

My dad phoned my mum before he died. Telling her that his plane had been hijacked and he would never see us again. He told her to move on with her life and forget him. Mum didn’t, she’s never had anyone else. I think there have been admirers, but she’s never been interested.

Mum and time

Her sadness did eventually lift, but I rarely hear her laughing happily. Losing a partner must be terrible. I lost my dad but I now have Greg. Mum has me and Greg but that’s not the same as being with dad. I now hear a quiet voice through my thoughts.

“Mummy, will you push me on the swing?”

“Yes, in a moment.” Taking her hand, I pull her towards me and give her a hug.

Moments like this and time are precious. Dad was often travelling for business and we didn’t have enough time together. All I have left are photos and memories.

So, please make the most of the time you have. Look after each other as none of us knows what will happen tomorrow. That morning in the school cafeteria I knew that I needed to make the most of what I have. I try and spend as much time as I can with those that I love. I’m not travelling across the country without them any time soon.


Please note, I live in the UK so this is not based on my own personal experience.

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