Five years ago today, I was sitting in bed feeding the kid, who was about six weeks old at the time. My mother had called to tell me to turn on the TV – that there was a terrorist attack and I remember saying, I don’t want to turn it on. I don’t want to see something like that.
But she insisted and so I did. I was trapped on the bed between the kid and her bottle and the scenes on the TV were nothing I had expected. I turned on the TV just in time to see the first tower collapsing, and I know I didn’t understand just what that meant at the time, didn’t realize how many people didn’t get out safely, didn’t really process that this was happening twenty-five minutes from my house. And then I was trying to get through to the husband, who works in Manhattan, and when I finally got through, he said they were all going to a co-worker’s apartment until they could figure out what to do. Because no one knew if it was over, what was going to be hit next. No one really knew what to do.
At the time, his office was in the same building as a Sports Authority, and he remembers people going in and buying sneakers and bicycles and scooters – anything to get them home. To this day, he keeps a pair of sneakers and a bag with medical supplies and water in his office. Somehow, he met up with his sister, whose office was downtown. She’d seen the second plane hit, had stood there mesmerized until the tower began to fall and then she said she just started running. And the two of them, along with one of my husband’s coworkers, caught a gypsy cab that took them into the Bronx. From there, my sister-in-law drove my husband and his co-worker here and everyone kind of huddled around. Everyone wanted to hold the baby – I remember that – it was like they couldn’t let her go.
I remember being grateful that she wasn’t still in the hospital in the city, because I’m telling you, I would’ve been crawling there on my hands and knees to get to her.
My father was supposed to be there at the Twin Towers that day – what would have normally been a breakfast meeting was, on that day, an 11am meeting. He lost a lot of co-workers. A girl I knew had gotten married to a firefighter the week before – they were on their honeymoon on 9/11. His firehouse was the worst one in terms of loss of life – her wedding photos are hard to look at, since all her groomsmen are the lost firefighters. The closest loss to me was a girl I went to high school with – she was newly married and four months pregnant.
I remember all the phone calls that day – a constant stream of friends and family, everyone checking in to make sure that everyone we knew made it home safely. I remember the next day, when we took the kid for a walk down the block. Everyone was off from work, everyone was out. Everyone was talking – telling their story – what they saw, what they remembered. On that day, it was important just to listen.
As hard as this was to write, I just wanted to say, I remember.