Taken just after September 11, 2001 near Ground Zero. Photographer unknown.
I woke to my alarm blaring at me, not because I had to get to work, but because I had a therapy appointment early in the morning. I had already quit my job and was in the beginning of a downward slump into a major depressive episode. My cousin had killed himself six months earlier on March 1, 2001. I was the last person in our family to have contact with him. We spoke over Instant Message, and he seemed okay. The next morning, my stepmother called me and asked me if I was sitting down. She then gave me the news that he had taken his life.
That morning, on September 11, 2001, I was about to get another rude awakening. After silencing the alarm, I turned on the radio. I always liked to listen for a few minutes before rising to a morning show in Los Angeles. The first thing I heard was a man saying, "Everyone is in line for the payphone because cell phones don't work. My friend worked on the 100th floor," he said, his voice cracking, "All I can say is God bless him."
My first thought was that there was a fire in downtown Los Angeles. A bad one. I got out of bed, knowing it would be on the news. I turned on the TV to see one of the World Trade Centers on fire, and a huge plane slamming into the other one. I was seeing a replay. It was just past 7:00 AM in Los Angeles and the second tower had just collapsed. They showed people jumping, I heard a woman sobbing, "Oh no they're jumping." Next cut, the first tower collapsing, then the second. I collapsed next, onto my knees, my face in my hands, my forehead on the floor. "Those poor people," I said. "My God those poor, poor people." I looked up at the television, a graphic across the bottom read, "Plane crashes into Pentagon." For the first time ever, I was terrified in my own apartment. When I saw the footage of the planes crashing into the towers, I could tell they were commercial jets. I also knew that no pilot, even if there was a gun to his head, would have willingly flown his airplane into those buildings. They would have fought them to the death first. And that's exactly what had happened.
My phone message was blinking, and then I remembered hearing my sister's voice while still in twilight sleep, saying something about being okay on my answering machine. She's a flight attendant for Delta, and when I played the message, realized she had called to let me know she was fine. I went to therapy, and was the one to break the news to my therapist that the second tower had fallen. She had been getting the news piecemeal from her patients and people in the building. After my appointment, I learned about the plane in Pennsylvania.
It's hard to believe it's been ten years. I've been watching the specials on National Geographic, History Channel and others because still, it's hard to grasp that it happened. And, to be honest, because part of me, the one that wants to believe in fairy tales, is hoping for another ending. For a long time, not even having been in New York or Washington DC when it happened, I suffered from what I can only call a mild post traumatic shock syndrome. I'd stay up all night, while in bed, glued to the radio. Or, get up and watch TV, trying to find out anything about what had happened. I quit looking for jobs entirely and merely existed. I was terrified to sleep for fear of waking up to something that horrible again. However, I will say that I never gave up on breaking through it. I was lucky to have not been one of those 2977 people who lost their lives that day. I always kept that in focus, that I would honor them by embracing life, even if it took some time, losing almost everything, a move across the country and completely starting over to relearn how to do it. And, that's exactly what I did and am still doing. Every time things got bad, I thought of those poor people, who weren't given a choice, and pushed through. God bless all the innocent souls who lost their lives that day. We have not forgotten. I will never forget, especially on my bad days. I remember what you lost and had to face. And then emboldened, I push through.
These are some of my posts about September 11, 2001.
December 12th, 2004 My Visit to Ground Zero in 2004. Includes picture of me there.
September 11th, 2004 America, Interrupted.
September 11th, 2002 One Year Later, and a tail of hijacked mail that got delivered.
September 8th, 2002 Before the first anniversary, thoughts of Them.
July 4th, 2002 Independence Day.
May 1st, 2002 An Unwelcome Companion.
April 1st, 2002 A Fireman's Daughter's Tales From Ground Zero.
Where were you on that day? Click on the time stamp (right next to "Posted by Anne") below to leave a comment.