With small kids, I always wonder what they’ll remember. Which adventures, small moments, or conversations will imprint upon their brains and become a memory they carry forward always.
For me, and so many others, 9/11/01 is one of those memories that takes up a piece of my consciousness. I have a clear snapshot of the attack on the World Trade Center. The night before, I sat at my kitchen table with my dearest friend who was visiting from New York, discussing how I needed a change. My father had died just weeks before, and that loss, I felt, perhaps was a catalyst for a new direction. My friend recommended moving to her beloved New York City, and after hours of talking, I went to bed with the gestation of a plan to move there.
The next day was a gorgeous September morning, one of those clear blue days that makes you grateful. A lot of the news coverage after would remark upon that fact, as if terrorism could only occur on a day with bad weather. A coworker was listening to NPR. She was the first one in our office to realize something was happening. Then, my friend, staying at my apartment, called. She had been watching the news on TV; did I know what was going on? My colleagues and I crammed into my boss’ office, in front of a small TV with bad reception. It was clear enough, though, to watch the coverage of the attacks. I remember sitting there, shocked. I had spent my childhood taking the PATH train into New York via the World Trade Center stop. I could see the hallways of that building, the Krispy Kreme on the corner.
I then starting calling friends and family in New York and Washington, DC. Miraculously, I got through to one friend in DC who was hiding under her desk at work. She couldn’t phone out, so could I call her mom in Connecticut to tell her she was ok? I did. And, I prayed.
I remember that it took a long time to stop feeling scared. I remember hearing the stories of other friends and family who were in New York that day and how they survived. I remember the stories of those who did not and the desperation of their families as they tried to find them. I remember being then–and still now–in awe of the first responders for their bravery and selflessness.
Much about 9/11 is so clear that it surprises me that 12 years have passed. I always feel that doing anything on this day, except honoring those we have lost feels somehow wrong. I knew a couple who chose 9/11 for their wedding day, purposefully. They wanted to turn a day of sadness into a day of new beginnings. A lovely sentiment, but, for me, this is, no matter what, a day of remembrance and reflection.