Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

On the morning of September 11 2001, I was sitting at my desk at work trying to get caught up on some paperwork. Our receptionist informed me that I had a phone call; I picked up my phone and greeted the caller. It was my mother, and she said she was calling all of her kids just to tell us that she loved us. While I thought this was sweet, it also struck me as a little odd. I asked, "Is everything okay, Mom?" She asked if I had heard about the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. I told her I had heard something about it, and I figured it was a small privately owned plane being piloted by someone who didn't quite know what they were doing. I mean really---how else could you explain an airplane accidentally running into the tallest building in the United States? This was the only explanation that was comprehensible to me. Mom then informed me that two planes had flown into the World Trade Center, and another plane had just crashed into the Pentagon. Mom said "I think we're under attack." I told Mom that I loved her, and I quickly hung up and went downstairs to the offices there to watch the news on television.

Co-workers, patients, and family members had already gathered around the television. Not a word was being spoken. Each person was staring blankly at the television screen as they watched the towers burning. I joined them and stared silently at the television as the CNN crew reported on the events unfolding in front of us. When the first tower collapsed, my heart simply broke. Up until that moment, I had hope that there would be more survivors than fatalities. I said out loud (to no one in particular) "I wonder how many people just died?" When the second tower collapsed, I started to cry and I had to walk away from the television.

I went home to my apartment for lunch because I wanted to call my friend who lived in the NYC suburbs and worked in Manhattan. I called her home number and was pleasantly surprised (and thrilled!) to hear her voice when she answered the phone. She had not gone to work that day, and she was home with her sons. Thankfully, she had already spoken with her husband (who also worked in Manhattan) and her brother (who worked and lived in Manhattan). They were both okay, but it didn't look like her hubby would be able to get out of Manhattan that day, so he was going to spend the night with his brother-in-law. I remember her voice sounded flat and sad.

I went back to work, but I was pretty useless for the rest of the day. We all were. One of my co-workers had a son who worked in the financial district, and we were all on edge until she finally received a phone call from him near the end of the workday. We were all relieved to know that he was safe.

I remember feeling sad and depressed for the rest of the day and for a few weeks afterwards. September 11 is a sad day for me. I watch the documentaries on The History Channel each year so that I can remember and reflect. Eight years later, the impact of that horrible day hits me just as hard as it did in 2001. I feel like it's my duty and my responsibility to remember and think about everyone who died in NYC, Washington DC, and Shanksville PA, as well as the survivors.

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