It’s 9/11 again. Eleven years have passed since that tragic morning, and still, the pain and loss is strong for so many. Last night my husband and I drove down the West Side Highway and he pointed out the Freedom Tower, not yet completed, but lit up in beautiful blue and white lights, shooting up to the sky in memory of that tragic day.
It is hard for me to believe that it was eleven years ago when I walked out of my loft in lower Tribeca with my five year old son and my seven year old daughter, taking them to school. My son had just started kindergarten, and I was taking him into class to show him where to place papers for his teacher (in an open metal tray by the front door). I can’t tell you how happy I am now that I was in his classroom when the first plane hit. The school vibrated, and my first thought was that it had been hit by a bomb. I ran outside, holding my young son in my arms. Nobody was on the street. We ran into the yard, and there was one other person standing there, a man. He was looked South, and up.
“What happened?” I asked him.
“A plane hit one of the Twin Towers” he said.
I looked down, and yes, there was a hole in one of the towers, smoke billowing out. What happened? I wondered. I guessed that the pilot had fallen asleep.
We stood there watching.
Another crash followed, and again, the building seemed to move. I ran back inside, carrying my son upstairs to my daughter’s second grade classroom.
“Stay inside the school,” the Principal announced over the loudspeakers. “Do not leave your classrooms”.
I looked inside the glass panel on my daughter’s classroom door, and she was panicked. I ran inside the room and grabbed her hand. Screw the instructions. We were getting out.
“My husband’s in there!” a neighborhood woman screamed. “Danny’s in there!”. We knew her. Oh my goodness.
That was just the beginning for us. Our lives were forever transformed that day, as were the lives of so many. We did not lose a husband, or a father, or even a close friend. What we did lose was a home, a family, a year of city life, all of our family keepsakes from the time the children were born.
But most of all, like so many others, we lost our peace of mind. To this day a helicopter cannot fly overhead without causing my heart to race. I can’t walk near very loud construction or scaffolding without worrying that I am going to be be crushed. I can never erase the images I saw of people throwing themselves out of windows of the Twin Towers, to their deaths.
“Look North,” I told my children as we ran uptown, away from the chaos. “I don’t want you to get smoke in your eyes”. Smoke, of course, was my code word for falling bodies.
For everyone who lost a loved one on 9/11/01, I wish you peace and love. For those who did this to us, I wish you pain. We have been at war for eleven years now because of this incident. We may never be the same.
I have tears in my eyes as I write this.