Chapter 36 - Somewhere Somehow

Because of her daughter’s critical condition, Quin was oblivious to what was happening in New York City, The Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  She noticed the staff of doctors and nurses crowding around the desk looking at a computer, but she thought they were just gathering to look at some medical information of their patients.  She saw the shock and despair on their faces, it didn’t occur to her that anything out of the ordinary had happened that morning.  An hour later, seeing that her daughter was breathing normally and had fallen asleep, she stepped out of the hospital to turn on her cell to see if Fei had texted or called her.  She was disappointed when her cellular displayed no new messages or missed call.  Looking at her watch, it was 7:30 in the morning.  Knowing New York was three hours ahead, she figured her husband was in the middle of his meeting which he told her had been postponed until 10 am.  Therefore, she decided not to call or text him and headed back to the Intensive Care Unit to be with her daughter.
About an hour later, the young intern doctor who was on Emergency duties came to check on the baby.  When he saw Quin, he casually asked where the baby’s father was.

“He’s actually in New York right now,” Quin looked at her watch.  “He’s probably still in his meeting.”

Upon hearing the word New York, the young doctor winced.  “Sure hope he’s not anywhere near the World Trade Centre!”

Quin looked at him with surprise.  “Actually, he is.  Why?”

Being young and inexperienced, the intern had a lot to learn about bedside etiquette as well as delivering news of distress.  He grinned back at her in surprise as if she was from outer space.  “You haven’t heard?!  The World Trade Center just collapsed.”

Quin and her daughter reached home shortly before noon to find the phone blinking its notification light that there were recorded messages to be retrieved.  As soon as she stepped into the house and locked her front door, she approached the recorder and pressed the play button hoping the 3 messages were from Fei.  They weren’t.

Then Quin turned on the television and watched the Breaking News.  She tried calling Fei’s cellular number but there was still no answer.  She felt the frantic emotions in her heart, yet at the same time, she held on to the hope that Fei was not among the casualties.  She looked at the baby in her arms and told herself that she must be strong, though tears were forming in her eyes as she watched the horrific scenes that were repeatedly being broadcasted from one channel to another channel.  Having no success in reaching her husband, she tried calling Meg to see if she was safe and at the same time hoping perhaps some miracle had brought Fei to her apartment.

“Oh Quin, I’m so sorry.  I don’t know where Fei is.”  Meg’s voice was shaken as well when she learned that Fei was supposed to be at the World Trade Center for a meeting.  “We had dinner with him yesterday.  But he hasn’t called today.”

“Where’s Peter?  Is he safe?”  Quin asked.

“Yes, he just called from the hospital.”  Meg went on.  “His NYPD buddies had asked for his help to transport people to the different hospitals.  He’s been going back and forth since 10 this morning.”

“It’s still so dangerous, with the fire and everything!”  Quin was still watching the live broadcast.

“Yes, but he’s at the outskirt where the police and firemen are bringing out the injured victims.  They won’t let anyone near the fire or the World Trade Center.”  Meg continued.  “Peter said some victims were very badly hurt, a lot of people are suffering from psychotic trauma.  Especially those who saw people falling out from the buildings.”

The next day, Quin was still watching the news hoping to catch a glimpse of Fei among those who were running away, or among those who were being interviewed.  After feeding her daughter and putting her down for her morning nap, she decided to turn on the news again.  Within three minutes, she fell into a deep sleep.  She hadn’t slept for more than 52 hours and she was exhausted.

Three days later, Quin was in the kitchen preparing some food for her daughter when the doorbell rang.  When she opened the door, she was surprised there was a man standing at the door and he was smiling at her.  He had driven almost 120 miles from the neighboring country to be at her front door.

“Aaron?!”

“How are you holding up?”

“I think I’m about to collapse and have a Ground Zero of my own here.”  That was when Aaron pulled her into his arms and gave her a strong bear hug for support.

She tried to stay strong over the last three days without any news from Fei or of him.  Even his colleagues who had gone to New York with him had not heard anything of his whereabouts.  They were on their way to the meeting that fateful morning and were detoured when the news of the attack reached them.  They were immediately driven back to the FBI Headquarters that same day and had been working hard to retrieve information about the terrorists responsible for this horrific attack.

“Why are you here?”  Quin collected herself, put on her strong poise and invited Aaron into the house.

“Aleiya sent me, or I should say she commanded me to come here to stay with you until she can make it down here.  She said she needs to deal with some crisis at home first, she’ll come as soon as she can.”  Aaron brought his duffle bag in and then handed Quin a plastic bag from the Fratelli Bakery.  “A gift for you!  This is the best Tiramisu in town.  She said this is your comfort food.  She made me turn on the A/C all the way here just for this cake!”

That brought a smile to Quin’s face.  She just realized she hadn’t smiled since the last time she spoke to Fei three days ago.  When she saw the cake, she was reminded of the time when Fei showed up at her office parkade with the coffee cake.  That was when her smile disappeared and tears began to fill her eyes again.
Two months went by and there was no news of Fei whatsoever.  Bui Yee and Mr. Mo had flown in from Hong Kong to give Quin emotional support as well as to help around the house and to look after their grand-daughter who had not fallen sick since that fateful emergency incident on September 11th.  To this day, the doctors could not figure out what happened to her on that particular day when her fever suddenly shot up so high.  They were amazed that she had no side effect and that her lung x-rays were as clear as crystal glass.
One day in November, when Quin returned home from the medical center, she noticed a few vehicles were parked outside her home.   
 
When Quin entered the house from the garage door with her daughter, Bui Yee was standing by the living room window, watching as the men in suits got out of their cars.  “Who are those people?” 
 
Quin handed her daughter to her dad who was nearby.  “Here Dad, can you change Lemon-B please?” 
 
After her dad took the baby girl, Quin headed straight for the front door.  Upon opening the door, her heart dropped when she recognized some of the men were Fei’s colleagues who went to New York with him back in September.  She feared this was the moment when the confirmation of Fei’s death would be announced to her.  If the agency had received news that her husband was still alive, they would have notified her by phone.  She knew only news of death was delivered in person.
 
That night, as the clock turned to midnight on November 11th, as fitting as it was for this day to be named Remembrance Day in some parts of the world; Quin sat on her bed hugging onto Fei’s pillow and sobbed.  She bury her head into the pillow and cried her heart out for the first time in 2 months.  Within minutes, the pillow was soaked with her tears and she had to bob her head up to catch her breath for a few seconds before covering her face on a dryer area of the pillow again.  After several bobs, the entire surface of the pillow was wet and she had to turn it over to use the other side.
 
Tonight, she finally let out the tears she had been holding back and allowed the grieving process to set in.  Oh how she wished she was the older man who came to see her this afternoon with Fei’s colleague.  His name was Antonio, the man whom Fei was buying coffee from before the first plane hit the World Trade Centre.  When Fei’s team found out Antonio had something that belonged to Fei, they decided it was time for Quin to meet him. 
 
As the event turned out, it was just last week that Antonio got in touch with them.  The day before Antonio was to be discharged from the hospital, he found among his belongings a stranger’s wallet.  He opened up the wallet and found Fei’s FBI batch, so he contacted the NYPD and told them he had Tsui Fei’s wallet.  When he flipped the batch, Antonio recognized Fei from the family photo which consisted of him and Quin and their baby girl.
 
Within an hour, two FBI agents showed up at the hospital to question Antonio about Fei.  That was when he told them that if it wasn’t for Fei’s wallet, he would not have been alive today.  Quin remembered Antonio’s words.  “At first he grabbed my arm and we started running.  Then he rushed forward and I lost hold of him during a moment of chaos around us.  I remembered seeing him on the ground like he was talking to someone.  I ran towards him and saw his wallet fell from his back pocket.  So I grabbed his wallet and when I stood up, he was gone.  But I heard someone calling out ‘Go over there!  The narrow alley!’ 
 
Quin could almost picture her husband in Antonio’s memory as he continued to describe the event.   
 
“At first I thought he was crazy to go the opposite direction, but he kept moving and calling others to go there with him.   Some of us followed, but some didn’t listen and kept running towards the main crowd!”  Antonio reached for Quin’s hand and looked into her eyes.  “Because I followed your husband, I am alive today!  That day, I remember turning back to look at the main crowd.  I saw countless of big rocks falling down.  Some of us who ended up in the same hospital asked about him, but nobody knew where he went.  If I didn’t find this wallet, I would have thought he was an angel sent from heaven to lead us to safety ground.”
Holding onto Fei’s wallet in her hands, she flipped through the pockets and found the train ticket that took him to the airport from Redmond Station.  She remembered that was where he said goodbye to her and their daughter.  That was the last day she held Fei’s hands and kissed his lips. 

Quin walked to the closet and took out one of Fei’s favorite jacket.  Burrying her face against the fabric, she could smell his scent.  It was as if he was in her arms once again and tears started to fill her eyes.  Once again, the sadness of losing Fei hit her again and she couldn’t help but sob into his jacket.  She was too grieved to even hope for a miracle.  Though she didn’t know it, she was in the presence of the Great Comforter.  Soon exhaustion overtook her entire being.  But her mind was in constant playback mode of the three little words that Antonio said to her that afternoon.  And then her dream took her down the path less travelled.  It was there she found her husband wondering down a narrow pathway.   She decided to follow him down ‘the narrow alley!’

Somehow Somewhere - by Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant