Within minutes we all discovered we couldn’t make phone calls, whether on cell phones or landlines. The Boston.com site crashed so there was no news there. Thank God for Facebook and Twitter.
My firstborn child is in Florida this week along with her dad, my husband David, as well as another person from the company they both work for. She got through to me via text. “Is my family OK?” is all it said. (This is her family here.) She couldn’t get through to them.
That’s how it was for everyone with someone in Boston Monday as in anguish we looked on those images, wondering who were the poor unfortunates from whose bodies life and health both were so violently torn.
It was the same question we had on September 11th.
The planes all came out of Boston’s Logan Airport that day, you’ll remember. When I called David at work, he told me that three of their people flew out of Logan that very morning. The agonized question on everyone’s mind: were any of their plans the ones that hit the towers?
They learned the answer when the company’s travel agent called sobbing. He knew that the nicest man in the company was on Flight 175. His name was Bob Jalbert and anyone who knew him said the same. Here‘s his obituary.
September 11th happened on a Tuesday. The next day Bob’s son called David, and asked him to give the eulogy at the memorial Mass. American flags filled the funeral home. there and in the church the atmosphere was heavy with grief. We were still so in shock over the events of that awful day we reacted with surprise at the end of the service when the priest came down front and said, “Please. Take the flowers.” For there was no body and there was no grave.
What a thing it was for my David to be the one asked to stand and speak about his friend. He is a quiet man not given to public utterance. I imagine he might say that standing before that weeping assemblage to speak of his friend was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. What an impossible task to sum up the life of a person. What a burden. What a privilege.
Looking out at the signs of our slow New England spring I keep asking myself: Who are the people who will speak for these newly dead and wounded. And what can they say? What ever can they say?
This is Bob, glowing as he did all the days of his life.