My boyfriend woke me at 4 a.m. to tell me that Bin Laden had been killed by the U.S. in Pakistan. His handy iPhone updater had woken him to let us know the good news. Normally I don’t love being woken up at 4 a.m., but I did not mind at all this time. I have waited a very long time to hear those words. Sickly enough, I was initially upset that he was dead as I would have loved for him to be tortured cruelly first, but upon reflection the sooner the world is rid of him the better and safer a place it will be.
On September 11th, 2001, my life and the life of my family was greatly changed by Al Qaeda’s attack at the Twin Towers. At the time I had never heard of Osama Bin Laden, but I quickly learned much about him and the Al Qaeda.
As a result of the attacks on the Twin Towers the following changed in our lives:
We had to move out of our family loft in Tribeca for a year, and ultimately sold it as the memories were too upsetting;
We lost almost all of our children’s “treasures”, including baby clothes, books, blankets, stuffed animals; and
Our marriage dissolved, which I have always indirectly attributed to these events.
I know that other people lost much more than we did, and I am not at all making light of the lives that were lost, the people who were hurt, and the volunteers who have become ill in the aftermath of working at the site. I am merely stating the specific ways in which our lives were impacted by these terrible attacks.
For well over a year after the attacks, my daughter and I both suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. We became startled at loud noises, our heartbeats quickening whenever we heard helicopters, and more. To this day, almost ten years later, I still experience anxiety whenever I see helicopters and small planes flying low and making noise. Just yesterday, on my gorgeous run along the Hudson with my boyfriend I worried when 3 helicopters and a small plane flew over the river.
Our block was on the news, our street sign felled. There was a huge smoldering pile of debris at the end of our block for almost a year after 9/11. We avoided the Western corner of our block in order to lessen our reactions to this constant reminder. When we visited the city we had to be escorted by police into our own home — the place where my children were born and lived their first five and seven years.
My seven year old daughter looked up at me as we fled from the burning towers almost ten years ago. She said,
“Mommy, I think the world is going to end today.”
It certainly did feel that way, as we ran North with friends and neighbors, seeking clean air and safety.
I had to tuck my little girl into a friend’s bed for a while before she was calm enough to continue our trek away from the home she had always known.
“Look this way,” I told the children, pointing their faces uptown as we ran along with hundreds of other people. For, behind us, bodies were dropping to the ground, jumping to their deaths, and this was a sight that my children were not going to see. “I don’t want you to get smoke in your eyes.”
We walked for several hours before sleeping on the couches of our family who lived uptown. It was slow going with two little children, and we stopped often to rest. As we tried to sleep I could not stop thinking that we were too close to the Empire State Building, and that surely this would be one of the next targets. Early the next morning we walked to Penn Station, where we took a train out to Bridgehampton, where we were fortunate enough to own a second home. We did not return to the city for many months.
I still look at the old site of the Twin Towers when I fly into New York, expecting those landmarks to show me the way home. We were violated in a way that we will never forget when Bin Laden and his evil cronies thought up their successful plot to destroy a part of New York life and history. Of course, New York was only one part of their overall plan, and others were also hurt in Washington, D.C. and on board the planes whose attacks on other sites ultimately failed.
Ding, Dong Bin Laden’s Dead (this is to be sung to the tune of “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz). As sick as it seems, I am internally celebrating his death. And how dare he reside in a so-called mansion for all this time? I actually felt some degree of happiness imagining him grovelling in a dank cave somewhere without heat or electricity. So what if he didn’t have an internet connection? This animal who called himself a human deserved no degree of comfort whatsoever.
Almost ten years was almost ten years too long to wait for Bin Laden to be killed, but we need to take whatever we can get, and to feel gratitude that he no longer walks among us on this planet. Good riddance, Osama Bin Laden. I only wish you had suffered a great deal more than you did before you were shot in the head.