Get A Grip: Scope of tragedy hard to comprehend

The enormity of the horror of yesterday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., is difficult to grasp.

It's like trying to imagine an infinite universe, at some point the brain stops, can't go any further.

So many lives lost, our freedom threatened.

When the story started to unfold in the early morning hours, my heartbeat quickened.

When news of the attack on the Pentagon was released, I felt sick.

My parents live just a few miles from the Pentagon.

My mother works at the Capitol.

I called my mother, praying for an answer.

As I dialed the phone, the AP reported more explosions in Washington.

She picked up the phone, shaken but OK.

She was home and I could breathe again.

"It's so awful," she said over and over, choking back tears.

"It's so awful."

"What about Dad?" I asked.

"Where's Dad?"

On this score I had even more reason to fear.

My father's work requires him to travel around the East Coast constantly.

He flies almost every day.

"He's in Louisville," she answered.

"He's OK."

I let out a relieved sigh.

"Thank God."

She told me the entire city was being shut down.

I told her that I loved her, hung up the phone and got back to work.

The news kept coming and kept getting worse.

The World Trade Center towers collapsed.

Two more planes were reported down.

What had seemed, in the very first moments, a possibly horrible accident, revealed itself to be a callously planned attack.

As I watched the terrifying footage of people running for their lives in New York City, I tried not to weep.

As I write, the smoke is still billowing from the attacked buildings.

People are probably dying of their wounds.

There is no way yet to guess at how many will die.

A preliminary estimate in New York alone put the number of dead at about 10,000.

For many families, the phone call home won't be a relief, like it was for me.

It will be a realization of their worst fears.

And I still have another phone call to make.

My former college roommate who was a bridesmaid at my wedding works near the World Trade Center.

But the phone lines are down and so I'll wait to make sure she hasn't been harmed.

As I watched the horror unfold on television, it occurred to me that somewhere in the world, someone was cheering a plan well executed.

My sadness turned to anger.

Sen.

John McCain appeared on TV and called the attacks an "act of war."

And the horrible truth is, he's right.

This is an act of war - an act of war that raises a host of difficult questions.

Questions like: how do you fight a war without an enemy? How is possible that four hijackers all got past airline security? Why was the attack a total surprise to our intelligence community? Who did it? Are more attacks planned?

I am no fan of George W.

Bush, but now is time to circle the wagons.

My prayers are with him as he undertakes the task of moving our nation beyond this horrible day.

On his shoulders rests the heavy responsibility of answering these questions for a scared and grieving nation.

And for me, there is another question: When will I be able to hug my Mom and Dad again?