Julie and I were getting ready for work when her mother called from Cleveland. “Turn on the news” she said in a worried tone that immediately sent chills down my spine. There on the television, the two towers were in flames.
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed. Julie rushed out of the bathroom. She was 7 months pregnant with Jacob. Somewhere in the living room, Sophie was probably watching the Wiggles.
Mesmerized, traumatized, we sat and watched as firefighters and police officers attempted battled the flames while the rest of the country… the rest of the world… tried to make sense of it. What the HELL had happened? Word came in about the Pentagon. Then the crash in Pennsylvania. Finally, in horror, we saw the towers crumble into the earth taking the lives of more innocent people with them.
Although I have seen the footage over and over again, I will never forget that moment of disbelief. This isn’t real. How can this be happening?
My boss called and told me the office was closed for the day. Julie went into work and soon learned that one of the executives from her company was on one of the planes. Sophie and I stayed at home. I didn’t know what to do with myself because I couldn’t sit around all day watching the news with a two year old running around. Numb. That’s what I remember. Numbness and guilt that I was in a safe place.
I watered the lawn.
The next day, driving to work and stuck in the morning traffic on the 101, I looked around at all of these people in their cars, all of them seeming to be getting on with their lives. Cell phones, makeup and coffee for the morning commute. Were they like me, mystified that across the country our fellow citizens… our brothers and sisters… were digging through the damage, breathing death, and searching for their loved ones while we went about our business?
Nothing made sense. It still doesn’t.
I will never understand how killing people justifies anything. Never.
Everything is everything, says Springsteen, but the loved ones from that day who died in moment of hate are still missing.
And they will not be forgotten.