As I write this, my kitchen clock strikes 12:00 p.m. EST. On this day, one of those anniversaries, I have stopped my work on all fronts to pen my own, personal remembrance.
I have had some teary-eyed moments today. My thoughts have ranged from the general implications of the event eight years ago to the personal implications (I lost a close friend in the World Trade Towers, I nearly lost a close friend in the World Trade Towers, a close friend lost a dear sister-in-law on one of the flights, …). There are many events in our collective history for which I do not have either personal memory or personal experience. This one, I do. I will never forget where I was or how I felt eight years ago.
I spent a great deal of time that day scared, with my heart firmly in my throat. I spent a great deal of time crying in disbelief. Then I spent a great deal of time immersed in sadness and numbness. I tried to get information, but my internet connection was down. I did not have a radio, but collected what I could from co-workers who did. I left my office very early that morning and, in fact, we had been told that we had to leave the Boston-based skyscraper, for fear of continuing attacks. I joined the slow progression of traffic leaving the Massachusetts capital lost in thought and sadness, unaware yet of the details or implications.
Over the next hours, I vainly struggled to locate my NYC-based friends, plagued by spotty phone and internet service. I kept at it until I ultimately connected with all but one of them. I listened to their own stories of terror, sadness and numbness over the next few hours, days and weeks.
I also received calls from friends and family both near and far, wanting and needing to reach out and “touch” someone else, to reassure that there could be a sense of normalcy in our new, crazy, upside-down reality. I remember, too, the strange effects of fear and suspicion close to home, at levels I had never seen or experienced before.
Ultimately, the strangeness did slow its frenetic pace. My friends, family, co-workers and I have all pretty much returned to what appears, for all intents and purposes, to be a state of normalcy. But can you ever really feel normal or ever return to your state of being prior to such a cataclysmic event? For my part, I don’t think I ever will. Every time I look at this Disney limited edition holiday ornament, a gift from a dear friend complete with tiny pewter Twin Towers below a Mickey Mouse-shaped inflatable, my heart skips a beat. Every time I read that children’s picture book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, I cannot stop my tears and the familiar hitch in my voice invariably returns by the last page with the drawing of the ghost towers’ outline.
I revisited all of these feelings when I attended our friend’s memorial service. However, I am no hero. I studiously try to avoid the horror of Ground Zero whenever I travel to New York and, to this day, I have never seen video of the event itself.
I do stop every September 11 to think again on what it felt like then and what it means to me now.
I have so many thoughts about 9-11. I do not have nearly enough time to write them all down. Maybe someday I will.
For now, I think it best to honor in my thoughts those who departed and those were left behind. I honor those who responded immediately and those who direct their efforts towards ameliorating the aftermath. I honor all that is good and kind in humanity and remain hopeful that we will never forget and always look upon 9-11 as supreme motivation for peace.