I really thought about not writing this. However, with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 upon us, and hearing everyone’s stories about where they were when it happened, I felt compelled to share my story.
It was 10 years ago. I was at work at my current job. I had just started the job about 2 months prior. A month earlier, I had gotten engaged (to my current husband). It was a Tuesday. I was not scheduled to be in Court that day, but instead was sitting in my office. I had a clock radio in my office, but I rarely turned it on because I got awful reception in my office. For whatever reason, that day I decided to have it on, but had it turned really low so it was merely background noise. After working for a bit, I realized that I wasn’t hearing any music coming from the radio, but was hearing what mainly sounded like talking. So I turned the sound up. That’s when I heard about the first plane. This was when people still thought it might just have been a tragic accident. Then the second plane hit. Everyone knew it was an attack at that point.
This is probably the point when I stopped breathing. You see, my fiance was in New York on that day. He had taken the train up there for a meeting. I wasn’t positive exactly where his meeting was, however, he had often commented to me that when he went up to NY, he would have meetings in the World Trade Center, and that the subway/train would actually go directly under the building and also had a stop right under there. It was very convenient for his meetings.
I tried to call him. I could not get through. I started to panic. I went down the hall to talk to one of my co-workers who I had only known for a brief time. I think I was crying. I explained that my fiance was in New York and that I couldn’t reach him on his phone. Oh, and that it was quite possible that he was in one of those buildings. Not knowing what to say to me, of course my co-workers tried to assure me that he was probably fine. That if he even was in the building, he was probably getting out of it right now (this was before the buildings collapsed). I kept trying to call. I kept getting no answer. I was starting to get a bit hysterical.
Then my colleague suggested that we take a walk down the street to an electronics store so that someone could get a portable TV, since we had no way to see what was happening (I think also partly to distract me from my constant calling and hysteria). We didn’t have readily available internet access in the office back then and everyone wanted to see what was going on. So we went to this store, and when we walked in, this was when we all first saw it. On a very large screen TV, the 2 towers . . . thick black smoke billowing from both. It was a sight that I will never forget as long as I live. It was horrifying and heart-wrenching and terrible. There really are no adequate words to describe that scene.
So, my colleague bought a TV and we returned to the office. When I got back to my office, the red message light was blinking on my office phone. I ran to my phone and hastily punched in my code to hear the message. And what I heard was the answer to my prayers. It was my fiance. He said this:
“Hi. I’m not sure if you know what’s going on, but there has been some sort of incident up here in New York. I’m ok, but I’m not sure when I’ll be home because they are closing all the roads and it was really hard for me to even make this call because all the circuits are jammed. I’ll give you a call later if I can and let you know what’s happening.”
I had never heard a more wonderful sound in my entire life. I was so overjoyed that he was ok. I called him immediately and somehow got through. He told me that his meeting was actually across town, but he was in a building that had a full view of the towers and he was watching them smoke at that moment. He had actually travelled right under the towers on his way to the meeting, but luckily he was early enough that he avoided the attack. God! He was so lucky that day. We both were. I think of all those people who changed their plans that day or called in sick or missed their flights or had a meeting down the street, and I am so happy that my fiance was one of those lucky few. Of course, I am also heartbroken for those that went on with their daily routines and ended up part of this tragedy by either being in one of those buildings or on one of the planes (or the pentagon).
The rest of the day consisted of being glued to a television, either at the office, or at home, or over a friend’s house with all of her roommates (nobody really wanted to be alone that day), or when my friend and I went out to dinner that night. It was everywhere. It was the only thing. We were over-saturated by the enormity of the visions and stories and horror of the event. But nobody could seem to pull themselves away from the horror unfolding before them. Including me.
The best moment of that day was when my fiance finally came home. He somehow got what he believes was the last rental car in all of the city and found a circuitous way to drive out of there and get home. When I first saw him, I hugged him so hard I doubt he was able to breathe. I cried so much. I did not let go for a very very long time. I was just so relieved to have him back to me safe and unscathed. Well, physically anyway. I don’t think any of us really survived that event unscathed. But we were one of the lucky ones who survived it physically and still carry on.
My heart goes out to those who lost someone during the attacks, or subsequently from the after-effects. I know that this day is probably one of the hardest they have had to deal with since the event, what with all the remembrances and media coverage of this 10 year anniversary of the event. I just hope time has healed them somewhat, although I know they will never truly be whole again. I just know how close I came to being one of those survivors of the tragedy of that day. I know that I am very lucky to not be in their place. I am grateful to have my husband and my family. But I am so sorry for their losses.
Where you you when the world stopped turning, on that September day?