I remember the day the world stop turning. I remember where I was, and how I felt. The helplessness. I remember watching it unfold on television. I realized right then that our lives would never be the same. The security I felt, was gone. The arrogance of knowing what a great country I lived in, was gone. The innocence of my children, was gone. What it was replaced with was fear. What would happen next? When? Where? Why? How?
We had news feeds going on all of the televisions in the SSW. Classes were eventually canceled for the rest of the day. Staff were told to go home. We weren’t getting anything done anyway. We were too devastated. So many of my colleagues and friends were trying to get through to loved ones that were in NYC, and DC. Everything was jammed up. No calls in or out. When I got home I turned on the news. We had satellite television so our local stations came out of NYC. I live in Michigan. Go figure. I was riveted. I watched every bit of coverage that I could. I sat and cried. I listened to the screams and the cries as the towers came down. I saw the horror on the onlookers faces. The dust, the debris, the screaming, the running, the blood, all of it. I thought of the human wreckage. I thought of what to tell my children when they came home from school. The questions that they would have. Like why would people we don’t know want to hurt people that they don’t know? How do you answer that? How do you tell a 9 and 10 year old that there is evil in this world that can’t be explained? How? I thought of the intense hatred I felt for whoever did this to us.
A few years later I stood at Ground Zero. It was Fall. The air was cool. The sky partly cloudy. The patches of blue in the sky were lit by a beautiful Fall sun. I looked into the tomb. The group of teenagers I was with, were being respectful. Which was unusual. Hell, it was unusual for this sparkly, crazy momma to be respectful. But we all knew we were at a grave site. That it was our duty to be respectful. We looked at pictures, flowers and other artifacts that were placed on the various fences. We took pictures. K and I cried. It took us back to that day. It was strange being there. In such a loud and vibrant city, it was so peaceful. We went across the street to St. Paul’s Church and went inside. There were shrines, notes, flowers, posters, pictures. Everything you could think of. We didn’t speak. We just took it all in. We lit candles. I know, I know I’m no fan of organized religion. But I’m a Christian first and foremost, so I lit a damn candle. I said prayers for those taken from us, the survivors, the first responders. Everyone of us.
I think about the folks in the towers before they collapsed. I think about making the choice to jump or burning to death. I’m sure I would have jumped. I would have grabbed my Broseph’s R and K. My two favorite colleagues that I wouldn’t mind dying with. I would have wrapped my arms around them, kissed them both sweetly and passionately. Hell if you’re going to die, you might as well go out with a bang. I would have locked hands with them and jumped. We would have prayed to sprout wings on our descent. But known we would have earned them on impact.
In the days, months and years that followed people have asked me, did I know anyone that died. No I didn’t. I knew none of them, but I knew all of them. They were humans sharing my planet, my country. Therefore I mourn for them. They were people with families, with lives to live, bills to pay, babies to be born, and shit to do. So because they were all of those things and more I mourn for them. We all do. We always will. I still believe I live in the greatest country in the world. I do. I still believe that if you work hard you can make it here. That we have endless opportunities and we have endless possibilities. Planes crashing into buildings and killing thousands did not dampen our American spirit. I believe it only intensified it. It also brought other countries to our side. We did not realize how much we were loved until tragedy hit. But isn’t that the way it usually happens? You never know how strong you are until tragedy does hit? And hit us it did. Every single one of us, whether we knew someone personally that died or not. It changed us. All of us. Forever.