Remember—I still remember @TroyPattee waking me up 10 years ago, encouraging me to get out of bed, and to come downstairs to watch the news. Reports of the World Trade Center being hit were blaring from the TV as I wiped the sleep out of my eyes.
Chase, almost 11 months old, was still asleep as Troy and I sat watching in amazement, learning of the tragic event that had just taken place, trying to process what it meant.
It's all a blur after that in terms of when Chase woke up, when the second building was hit, and when all of my thoughts started focusing on World War III. A little odd, I know. But my first thought was: "This is going to be World War III!" I almost expected WWII-like planes to start dropping bombs right around us.
My second thought was: "What would all of this mean for the world in which my newborn would grow up?"
Somehow in between the Pentagon being hit and days of news watching, we did everyday tasks: got ready for the day, ate, played with Chase, and watched reruns on TV, waiting for life to get back to normal. Still, we wondered if other attacks were looming, if we should stock up on anything, and how our relatives living in New York City or those who were traveling were doing.
A week after, I remember thinking how odd it was that life felt normal. I was at work and my everyday tasks remained similar. It was like I was living in two worlds: one that remained highly untouched, or so it seemed, by the tragedy of 9/11 (my day-to-day life) and the other, the world outside my little bubble, where rescue efforts were going on day and night and plans for war were being made.
We had made plans to go to Connecticut for Thanksgiving, only 2 months after 9/11, and kept our plans. As part of our trip, we rented a car and road tripped to Brooklyn, where we stayed for a few days in my cousin's brownstone in Carol Gardens while she was at home with her family. We met Troy's brother and his family in the city and had fun as a family. We went on a carriage ride in Central Park, visited Time's Square, and ate at South Street Sea Port. In short, we enjoyed a very touristy day.
I don't know if I was in denial of the recent attack on the city or what, but either way I tried not to think or talk about it much. At the end of the day and since we were near the Financial District, I said I wanted to visit my favorite bookstore, Strand Books. The subway wasn't working as normal and so we had to walk many more blocks than usual to get to our destination. I still remember so vividly walking, slightly ahead of everyone to figure out where we were.
I noticed a Hallmark store that was dirty and couldn't figure out why. I kept thinking how clean Hallmark Stores normally are and got really focused for a minute on why they would let so much dirt pile up on their floors. Then, I noticed that most of the stores in the area were the same way. I was so confused. And right about then, I turned the corner to the right, heading the wrong way, only to find the wreckage in front of me. The dirt I had seen was from the destruction and was still there, untouched. That realization gave me the chills.
I remember huge lights and a charred building and lots of metal and tractors or bull dozers moving things. We had to stay behind barricades, where I was frozen as my two worlds collided and my bubble burst and I saw the devastation up close and personal. I couldn't get past the fact that there were possibly people alive in the mayhem and how many people had died trying to be saved or trying to save others. And I stood there helplessly watching and holding my baby tighter. He would never see the twin towers or know a world without this historical event.
To look back, it feels just like yesterday and it feels like 10 years ago all at once. Chase is almost 11, a tween (as he reminds me everyday!). The fears I had on 9/11 didn't materialize in the way I anticipated they would. No fighter planes flew over my house. But 9/11 impacted our family in other ways.
My heart goes out to all the lives that were lost that day and all of the families who lost loved ones.
Winston Churchill said, "We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival."
Where were you on 9/11? What did you experience on that day? How has you life been changed by those events?