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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
12 years later...
I remember many of the events of 9/11-some memories so vivid I think they are happening in the here and now. Some memories faded, hazy and scratchy like watching an old newsreel.
I was unemployed after being downsized from P&G. I was also recovering from 2 surgeries. I was driving on interstate 275- on my way to Amelia- to help a friend move. They broke news over the radio. People actually stopped on the highway. Some still in the road and others pulled to the side. Emotions clearly visible, faces lined with grief and shock. Some people openly weeping. There was a roaring sound in my head and I could hear my pulse pounding. My chest hurt and I couldn't breathe. My first thought was to my daughter who was at school. She was safe wasn't she? Then to my husband, was he ok? Then my thoughts went to all of my family and friends. My mind was filled with so many tumultuous thoughts. It couldn't be true. My mind would NOT accept this as truth.
I began moving through the traffic weaving in and out. I need to get to a phone (it was the days before I had a cell phone) and I needed to see the news on TV. I was convinced it was all a terrible hoax. I turned off the radio and missed the news of the 2nd impact.
I pulled into my friends parking lot, went to her apartment and asked if she was watching the news. She turned on the TV and we stood there in shock at the images being played on the screen. I don't recollect much immediately after that. If we actually moved anything or not. My next memory is sitting at my husbands work in the clubhouse watching the news. Where they played the footage over and over. I couldn't go home. I couldn't be alone. I was shocked, numb and scared.
I had tried to get Amanda from school earlier in the day but they were on lock down. I finally and slowly made my way home to meet my daughter at home. I had no idea if she knew what was going on. She was in high school and certainly old enough to understand the horror that our county was under attack. I remember traffic was slow. So many people panicked and left work. Frantic to get home, to see their loved ones and to cocoon in the safety of their homes. To this day those memories play in my mind, grainy and halted like a stopgap movie. There were lines of cars at the gas stations, gas prices had been gouged to $5-$7 a gallon, the grocery stores over run and shelves empty.
I stood at the window, watching for the bus, watching for that familiar figure walking down the street. Any noise and I would jump. When my daughter opened the door, and called "Mom?" it was the most beautiful sound I ever heard. I remember the strain in her voice, she was just as worried as me as I for her. I remember her dropping her book bag and we just stood hugging each other. Tears rolling down my face and into her hair. Her tears soaking the front of my shirt. I don't recall if the shaking was from her or me. We huddled on the couch, with our dogs and cats, TV off and silence was deafening. It seemed as if the whole world had stopped. When the hubbs pulled in the drive we both gave an audible sigh of relief. After that the days and memories are muddled. I do know we were forever changed that day. Our belief we were safe shattered. I remember...the pain, the loss, the sacrifice.
Some years later (2007) I had an opportunity to be in New York and visited ground zero. In a city that never sleeps the noise seemed to fade away as I approached the WTC platform. There were many people paying their respects, yet it was eerily silent. We knew this was hallowed ground. The wooden signs listed all the names of the people who perished that day.I don't know how long it took me to read the names. It felt like hours and it felt like time had stopped. My throat tightened and the tears came. Looking around I realized I was not the only one crying. Young, old, woman or man. So many faces all openly weeping. Even as I write this-12 years later-the tears fall freely down my face.
I didn't know anyone personally that perished that day, but I did have an Uncle and Aunt at the pentagon when it was hit. It was 18 hours before we received word they were ok. But everyone I know or have met since knows someone either directly or indirectly that this tragedy impacted. It has been 12 years and our country still grieves. For all the horrible memories, there are good ones too. I remember how family, friends, neighbors and strangers came together in solidarity. Reaching out for comfort and strength. We stood up, gave notice we were strong, we would recover and we would fight back. We were a country united. I remember...the hope, the pride, the determination.
Most of all--I remember