The sky was the perfect periwinkle blue. Absolutely sharp and crisp against the sun. It was a day off for me. I lazily lounged in bed drifting in and out of sleep. I did not have the cordless house phone with me and it rang yet again in the kitchen. After the sixth or seventh time I became aware that something must be wrong. I glanced at my watch and calculated that D must be somewhere near the Tappan Zee Bridge on her commute to work in Westchester. Oh no, what if there was an accident. I rolled over and ran for the kitchen to get the phone. Breathlessly,
“Hello?”. D was on the other end. “TURN ON THE TV!!”
I returned to the master bedroom and flipped on the TV. It didn’t register. Not in that first second, nor in the hours and hours of coverage that day. It was just between 9 and 9:30 AM. I was staring at the image of a smoking tower. I didn’t understand what I was seeing. D, on the phone was saying the news said it was a small plane. Um, no. This was a massive gaping hole ragged in the side of the WTC tower. I sat transfixed. Completely unable to move my eyes from that screen. Suddenly a plane comes into view. OH MY GOD. D is yelling. I’m speechless. WHAM. The plane impacts the tower, tearing a new gaping hole. I tell D another plane hit.
Yes, another plane just flew into the tower. She is sitting in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Mid span. Looking down the river she can see the smoke. We both silently take in what exactly is happening. It is not an accident. This is terrorism. I remain in front of the TV describing what I am seeing. Just shy of 10:30 the North tower starts to shake. I am telling her the tower is shaking when suddenly, inch my inch it starts to drop in the camera frame. Building speed it rapidly drops and disappears out of the camera shot. I mumble something to D that the tower fell.
“Yes, it collapsed completely”.
“I don’t know. it just did!”
The camera tightens in on the South tower. I see the people hanging out of the windows. Some jumping. It is sickening. I wish they would pull back to a wide shot. I can’t keep watching these people jump. I can’t look away though. It can’t rip my eyes away. D asks what is happening. I cannot come up with words. All I can do is cry.
I would see the second tower fall. I would hear the news reports of a plane crashing in PA. A plane would hit the Pentagon. I sat and sat. I could not remove myself from that TV and all the sickening images I saw. They are seared in my brain. No drug, no ECT, nothing can remove them. They are struck in indelible ink there on my grey matter. It was the first time I had seen anything so horrific. Both in content and in scale. The numbers were staggering. Nobody was sure how many people remained in the towers when they collapsed. The news could only guess. As the day wore on I fell into this strange stupor. It was sorrow, fear and being completely overwhelmed all mixed together. When D finally walked back into the door after spending hours trying to get back over the Hudson river. I just held her. We barely spoke. We sat in front of the TV. I finally walked outside to my garden. I had enough. As I stood amongst my mums and the rowdy nasturtiums that had taken over in the perennial beds a screaming sound caught my attention. Flying fast and low a F-15 fighter jet blasted by overhead. It hit home. We, America, were under attack. At that point in the day none of us had any idea what was next. How many more targets? How much more terror? It was all in question. There I stood amongst the flowers wondering our fate. Just as the images are seared in my brain, so too is the feeling of powerlessness. The moment I comprehended that we are not safe. That it is just an illusion. We can be hit at anytime. There are forces beyond our borders, and within them that seek to harm us. We can be the target of terrorism here on our shores.
This was my FB status this morning:
I will never forget that crisp periwinkle blue sky, or my complete and utter disbelief that this could happen to “us”. There was so much about that September day that changed us, as people, and as a nation. Our eyes are open now to the horrors that so much of this world faces everyday. We are no longer immune, nor exempt. We too can be brought to our knees by senseless acts of violence and terror. I only pray that this will not happen again, though I know in my heart it will. Let us never forget those who lost their lives. Never Forget.


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