When it happened, I was living by myself in the Fan. My apartment was about two miles from my office. I remember Diane and Charlie being interrupted by a plane crash in New York City. Matt and Katie had it on, too. But I was running late, so I jetted off to work where I asked my ladies if they had heard. No one knew anything yet.
We had an old TV in the conference room that we turned on. We were captivated and worried and uneasy as we watched it unfold. What did it mean? What was going to happen next? What in the hell is going on?
Our 9am appointment showed up shortly after the second plane hit. A print company who wanted our business. He didn't know yet what was going on. We listened to him the best we could, tried to give him our attention, but ink styles and print capabilities and competitive pricing didn't matter in that moment.
When he left, we watched more. We worried more. We decided we should all go home, since no one knew what to expect from the rest of the day. I remember thinking the worst: War is coming to the United States. We could all be attacked. People I love could die.
In my office, I had a print of a photo of the New York City skyline that I bought when Sara and I had gone there just a couple summers before. The Twin Towers were the centerpiece of the image. I hadn't had it framed yet, so I had the thick paper propped on top of a bookcase. It had always stood up pretty well. That day, while we watched the horrors on the television, it had fallen to the ground.
I went back to my apartment in a daze. It was the most surreal day. I was too old to run home to Mommy or Daddy, but sort of felt like I should. But they were at work or far away, so what was the point? I didn't want to be alone, but because it wasn't really in my backyard, I didn't want to overreact either.
I made phone calls to loved ones, just to check, just to be sure, just to connect. I cried. A lot. Bryan and I had been casually dating for just a few months, and he was visiting a power plant in South Carolina. He called me, just to check, just to be sure, just to connect. Ironically, it was that day that made me realize that I didn't want to date anyone else, that he was the only one I wanted, that I had no idea what I would do if he was gone.
I stared at the TV for days. I had pictures Sara and I had taken while laying on benches in the courtyard of the World Trade Center. We had looked up at their immensity and snapped photos of the wonder we saw. And now, they were gone.
I mourned for people I did not know at all. I mourned for mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. I mourned for nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts. I mourned for grandmothers, grandfathers, friends, neighbors.
Bryan and I visited Ground Zero for the first time since the attacks over Labor Day weekend. He had never been when the towers were standing. I remembered the space being filled, and cried at the emptiness. Seven years later, the wound is still raw when I think of the families who lost so much in such a short time... when I remember the people who watched the tragedy unfold in front of them, and who ran, covered in dust, through the streets of Lower Manhattan... when I remember the Pentagon employees... when I remember the brave, brave souls of Flight 93... when I remember the images on the TV that morning, the feeling, incomparable to any other, that I felt that day.
And today I mourn for people I did not know at all. For mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. For nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts. For grandmothers, grandfathers, friends, neighbors.