There are a few events in life that have been memorable enough to put in a bank of “moments I will never forget”. My first time on an airplane was memorable, I recall the feeling of having to truly let go of all that I control, from the moment I stepped onto the plane through flight and until we landed. My fate was truly in the pilot’s and God’s hands. What felt to be a gazillion feet above ground and somewhat miraculous, was a true testament to having faith in man and something greater than human-kind. There have been majestic memorable moments in life such as my very first kiss with a boy who made my heart race, or my first major promotion at work. Childbirth was certainly majestic and a labor of love that is ingrained in my memory bank. Moments to never forget where somewhat anticipated and fondly captured in my mind once it past. Little did I know about a moment I would never forget, could not anticipate and will not only live with me, but an entire city and nation.
It seems like just yesterday. I arrived at work, put my attaché down and immediately felt 12 floors under me shake. The building shook as if we were in the midst of an earthquake. I panicked! I looked out the window and saw a rain shower of shredded paper falling from high in the sky. It was as if the clouds were sprinkling paper. Screams of the World Trade Center being hit by a plane shrieked past me and I immediately grabbed my co-workers who were close by and ran outside. How does a plane hit a building, and the World Trade Center at that? It sounded unbelievable! My feet took me as fast as I could scurry along the couple blocks to where I would get a full picture of what was unfolding at the time. Flames up top and screams down below. Was this an accident? Did the pilot or fate have misfortune in store for those aboard who gave up control during that time they planned to fly through the sky?
Moments later, a second plane hit and what seemed to be unsurpassedly the most horrifying moment, became even more horrific and filled with terror. We always scream at the television set when we see a bad guy approaching the unsuspecting victim. Our screams are usually “LOOK OUT” or “RUN”. We also wonder, why didn’t the victim run? At the moment the second plane hit, my feet were planted in the sidewalk as if stuck in quicksand and my eyes mesmerized with the terrifying sight, as if I was being controlled by a vampire or some sort of hypnotist. If this was a movie, someone would have certainly yelled at the set… “RUN”. The building was burning and we stood there watching brave souls, jump out the smashed windows, from the highest floors of the World Trade Center to get away from the flames. People jumping, and jumping, and with each gasp, we saw another body jump. It was the saddest day of my life. Even funerals of loved ones seemed less sad than the forced departure of such innocence and beautiful lives.
A work colleague nudged us to start walking away as the flames grew thicker. The feeling of helplessness was overpowering and the sight overwhelming to wrap my head around. The sidewalk which I was glued to like quicksand seemed to let me go, and I started walking hastily away from the site, but with it all still in clear view. As we walked away, my mind was filled with thoughts that did not connect, just like the phone services that were down due to major towers being hit. My mind raced to the thought of the Chinese Wall training session I was suppose to attend that morning in one of the Towers that were hit. I could have been there…and wait! My husband did not know the training session which would place me in the Trade Center, was cancelled. He’s worried; I was sure of it and could not get a phone line to go out. My kids who all knew I worked a couple blocks away would be worried too, and how do I get to them all? My chaotic thoughts crashed my mind for quick seconds as I heard the loud gasps of those walking beside me. The Towers collapsed and I again was sucked into the sidewalk like quicksand as I stood there and watched the World Trade Center cascade to the ground, as it imploded. The thick dust clouded the air and we walked until our minds caught up with what our eyes had witnessed.
No first kiss, no birth, no wedding or funeral, would leave such a profound mark on my memory and soul. I, like everyone in the United States and around world, will NEVER FORGET! In a time when terror is still present, we learn to live unafraid but with caution. Let’s hope that human kind learns that we are all valuable souls no matter what our religion, ethnicity or income level. Let’s hope this 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack, reminds us to always dig deeper to better understand and embrace our differences as people, and unite in a City loved around the world, New York!