9-11-01

I went through the regular rituals this year – watching old coverage of the planes hitting the towers, listening to survivor tales, reliving it as if it were yesterday. It came at a time when my own life was crumbling down around me, when I thought things couldn’t get worse. I was safe on Sept. 11th, but watched in horror as so many were not. I will never forget how it felt then, and the other day, rocking my baby to sleep, I let my mind go back to it. Here is how I remember 9-11.

 

I was safe inside the glossy, brightly painted cinderblock walls.
A glimpse of shockingly blue sky through the hallway window.
A strange announcement over the PA:
Stop what you are doing.
Read the email.
Bolded, capitalized.
THEY ARE GONE.
Whole buildings.
The people.

Lost to dust and twisted metal
Chaos in slow motion.
Absorption takes time.
Running for the phone.
Busy signals.
Disbelief.
Days and weeks and months of chaos in slow motion.
Absorption takes time.
A downtown turned ghost town.
A town filled with ghosts.
Riding the train with firemen.
Police.
All wearing the same shocked expression.
They wanted to talk then, not like now.
They still needed to speak what they saw, to hear what it sounded like.
To know if it was real.
The flyers stuck to chain link fences.
Have you seen her?
Do you know what happened to him?
My sister, father, my son?
They held tight in whipping winds, in rain.
Clinging to the fences with threads of hope.
For months, hoping.
The unfathomable truth held at bay.
Recovery turned to clean up all too fast.
Not yet, not yet, not yet.

They are still in there.

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