This is something that I wrote this day, last year. I just wanted to repost it.
Everything about September 11, 2001 is unmistakably etched in my mind. The breathtaking clear blue sky of that morning, the intensity of the red & orange flames, the thickness of the smoke, the heat from the fire.
The confusion when the first plane hit – it was such a clear day, how cold some pilot miss the World Trade Center? Pilots are trained to steer towards water or an open field when in distress, why didn’t this aircraft make it into the Harbor?
Watching the second plane hit from my window, 33 stories up and 6 blocks away – the one time I wished I didn’t have a front-row seat. The realization hitting me when that second plane backed into the tower. The sound – the unmistakable roaring of an airplane that was way too close to me.
Trying to stay calm walking down the 33 flights of my building. Not knowing if it was over. Knowing that my building is geographically the southernmost building on Manhattan – giving a clear path for planes heading northward. We’re right on the water too, what if the waterways aren’t safe anymore?
The confusion in the lobby of what exactly was going on. And why won’t my cell phone get through to anyone!?! Making the decision to start walking north, hoping our friends made it out alive.
We made it to the South Street Seaport before we started running. Why are we running? What’s going on? The first tower fell. Making our way to the FDR Drive, astonished by the sheer amount of people walking with us. Rumors running everywhere – DC’s been hit, car bombs in the capital, another plane is headed for L.A. Can anyone get though on their cell phone? Yes! Here’s my family’s number, please have whoever you’re talking with call them and let them know I’m okay.
Getting to the apartment – and the wave of relief when our friends walked in minutes after we did. Turning on the TV, seeing the destruction. Both towers leveled. A news bulletin raced across the screen, ‘300+ Firefighters missing’. Then I realized, then it hit me, DAD! Did he go in? How many of our friends and family are there. That’s when I passed out for an hour, just from the sheer exhaustion.
When I finally got on a train to Long Island, I was so releived to be out of the city. I couldn’t move for three days, my legs were so cramped. I couldn’t put on real shoes for a week, my feet were all scraped and bloody from my heels. But I didn’t complain. I gladly accepted the pain – at least I was feeling something other than numbness.
Taking count of who’s missing, from what firehouse, who’s hurt…I really could do nothing but sit by the phone. And wait. My Dad’s gotten more use out of his Fireman’s uniform in those first 12 months than he has in the past 20 years on the job. It didn’t matter if we knew them personally or not, they were all family. And so it was another day, another funeral.
And we’ve all been trying to heal for the past 12 months. The 1-year mark is hard, but we’ll get through it. Because we’re New Yorkers, Americans, Human Beings. God will never give any of us more than we can handle in one day. So we take it one day at a time. And we will be resilient, we will rebuild, we will stay strong and proud. Because when it comes right down to it, that’s all we know how to do.
I realize how lucky I am, that I’m okay and that my Dad is okay – physically anyway. But it will be a while before we can all truly heal.
Posted on Sep 11, 2003, 12:21 PM from IP address 188.8.131.52