It was just like any other day. Rushing to take Josh to child care and run errands. Then back to the house and do the dishes. Then the phone rang and the world turned upside down. Was your day like that, too?
Remembering exactly the sequence of events of that morning, when I got the call, turning on the TV, in a dream state watching as the world changed. Then coming to, and trying to control my own small world. Where was everyone?
First, I went back to child care and picked up my son. There was no cell phone to reach my husband back then. I went to a local government office where I had friends and we gathered around the TV there, in shock, waiting to learn something, who… why… I had to reach my sister. That is when the panic began.
My mother was in Philadelphia. My sister lived in Raleigh, North Carolina at the time, and worked in New York City, frequenting the Twin Towers for business. We could not locate my sister. As I write this, I can feel the rising of the terror that she was suffering, she was trapped or even worse. I can feel the sequence of loved ones all over the world beginning to hear the news, shock, disbelief, anger and grief. It was just after 9am that we began trying to contact my sister and it was almost 11:30 when I heard from my mother that she had called her from North Carolina.
There is no other day in my life that changed me so much. I imagine this is true for many others as well. As time went on, I found there were people in my extended family that were touched, lives were lost, futures erased. There was never a warning, and from then on to this very day, there is no warning when a memory is triggered that I feel that overwhelming grief for all that disappeared that day. For those who live in the shadows of the memories, in New York, in Washington, DC, and in Pennsylvania, I respect and admire their ability to face the future, to move through and press on.
On a recent episode of the TV show, Secret Millionaire, a young man, Sean Belnick, who has become wealthy over the past few years, but had a clear memory of that day, ventured into the New York City neighborhoods where firefighters and their families suffered unimaginable loss. What he found was a true bond of love and support had risen up from the ashes, an ongoing, visible and living testament to the courage and resilience of those who had suffered the greatest.
As we go through this day, with the memories we hold of our collective experience and our individual experience, please take a moment to acknowledge that we are changed, we are different, and we only have now. If you feel moved to, I encourage you to donate to the Friends of Firefighters here.
In the words of Bruce Springsteen from “Into the Fire” on The Rising…
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love bring us love…