The morning of 9/11, I was waiting for a client to show up when I called my best friend. We often touch base with each other before beginning our work days. I knew from the sound of her voice that all was not well, when she said, "Is anyplace safe anymore?" I had no idea what she was talking about since I typically enjoy silence in the early morning hours- no TV or radio. She, on the other hand, listens to the news while getting ready for work. As she filled me in on what was happening, I felt myself becoming nauseated, and my hands began to shake.
As an ex-New Yorker now living only 30 minutes away in NJ, and someone who has family and many friends who live there still, I always think of Manhattan as my city. She had just told me my city was under attack! With shock and disbelief I turned on the TV and saw the Twin Towers burning. When my door bell rang and my client showed up, I knew instantly by the smile on his face he was unaware of what had happened. He knew by the tears running down my face that something terrible had occurred. I led him to the TV, and we sat in silence watching as the news unveiled.
When my rational brain began to focus, I felt panic. Although none of my family members or close friends would have any reason to be anywhere near the site, I felt an urgency to hear their voices and know they were OK. Of course, all phone lines were down, and it took hours before I knew everyone was out of harms way. But their is a kinship amongst New Yorkers that is hard to explain to those who don't live, work, or frequent Manhattan. So every single person who was touched by this tragedy suddenly felt like a dear friend. My heart ached for weeks, and the tears would flow often. It was the first thing I thought about every morning upon awakening, and the last thing before going to sleep.
I would overhear conversations in the grocery store of people in my town who lost family members or friends. We attended memorial services at our high school for folks we had never met, but who would be forever missed. Our hearts went out to all who suffered loss of their loved ones. We all lost- even if we didn't know someone directly.
It took months before I could go into the city. The first time we finally ventured in, from the overpass leading to the Holland Tunnel, you could still see smoke rising from Ground Zero. It's a sight I will never, ever forget.
9/11 lifted me, and pretty much everyone else I know, from a sense of false security- terrorism of this degree could never happen here. Not in America! How wrong we were, and how we can never take our safety for granted. I have gained a sense of awe and gratitude for the many individuals that work to secure safety- from our police force, to our fire fighters, EMT's, and our politicians. Whether we agree or not with all of their views, they are the folks that put their lives on the line to run and protect this country.
I was also touched by the determination and fortitude of everyone to band together to recover and rebuild. It restored my faith in human compassion. Truly, most people are good and do care! 9/11 reminds me of the fragility of life, and how it can change in a second. I do my best to enjoy every day, show love and appreciation daily to my family and friends, and feel gratitude to live in the USA.
The heartbreak of 9/11 never mends. Although it doesn't hurt constantly, it is always there under the surface. I remember every time I go into the city. Yes, we are back to frequent visits to the museums, theatre, restaurants and everything else this fantastic city has to offer. My appreciation for it is greater than ever. We are blessed to have easy access to it. And I thank all those who work tirelessly to protect it, and every other great city in this country.