One of the things that has stayed with me the most over these 10 years is the color of the sky that day. It was intense blue, cloudless, perfect. It was one of those days in which you stepped outside in the late summer sunshine and were happy just to be alive. I remember how completely incongruous that felt, wondering how something so horrific could happen on such a perfect day.
On September 11, 2001, I was living in Baldwinsville, NY and had been married to my now ex-husband for just over a year. I was working in Syracuse as a behavior specialist for day treatment programs. I remember so vividly that I had started my day early at a meeting at one program, then headed to another for the rest of my day. I heard the news that a plane had crashed into the first tower as I listened to NPR as I drove from one site to the other. By the time I got to my other program, word had come of the 2nd plane. Some of my colleagues heard the news first from me, having no TV or internet at our program. We turned on the radio and listened as events unfolded.
From early that morning, I had been trying to reach my oldest and dearest friend in Connecticut. She had called me on the evening of the 9th to tell me that she had gone into labor with her second child and was headed to the hospital. Not having heard from her since, I was worried. Even with everything going on around me, I kept trying to call her, finally reaching her a little before 10 in her hospital room. I cried happy tears as she told me that her son had arrived on the 10th, healthy and beautiful. We spoke of what was happening, as she watching it on tv. And then, she started to scream as she watched in horror as the first of the towers collapsed. When we hung up, I remember wondering aloud to one of my co-workers about what kind of a world that precious baby had just come into that someone would do this to us.
So much of the rest of that day is a blur. I remember calling my family, concerned that my sister-in-law sometimes worked in the World Trade Center, my relief that she was not there that day. I remember finally watching TV when I got home and sobbing at what I saw. I remember being too upset to knit, feeling little comfort in anything.
Ten years later, I also remember the sense of coming together, of feeling united. I remember that my colleagues, a group of people who hated their jobs and barely tolerated one another, came together to comfort and support one another and attempt to explain the unexplainable to our clients. I remember a larger sense of community that I had never felt before, when people talked about it, asked about it, wondered about the future. There was a sense that we were all Americans, that we were all impacted and changed by that day, that we had a common goal and purpose.
When I look back on it and consider the world that baby came into and how its changed in the years since, I feel safer and more secure. My shattered sense of security is once more intact, granted not to the degree that it once was. And yet, in so many ways, I worry more now about the world in which that 10 year old little boy lives than I did on the day after he was born. We’ve lost that sense of unity, of coming together, of being one nation. Our country has become so divided, so fractured, people so intolerant. I’m often struck by the hatred I hear from people. If this is what’s become of us, then haven’t those out to destroy us accomplished that?
My wish on this day, in remembering what happened and those lost, is that we all remember that sense of unity. Its time we come together once again.
For me, each and every time I see a beautiful, bright blue sky, I am reminded just a little bit of that day, of what we lost and what I took for granted before. I hope to never forget that.