September 11, 2020
It was an ordinary day for me.
I got up, took my kids to school and day care. My husband went off to work. I went off to my college classes for that day.
I was just finishing up my college algebra class that morning and heading to my macroeconomics class.
As I walked through the hallway to class the whole vibe of the people around me changed.
There were groups standing together, some were crying, others looked panicked. I had no idea what was going on.
I got to my class and sat down still busy reading over my notes and not paying much attention. Then someone turned on the TV and I heard a gasp.
I looked up and saw the images of one of the towers on fire. In that moment my mind wasn’t grasping the reality unfolding on live television. I was rather bewildered and confused at what I was seeing. I thought it was a trailer for a movie or something.
The instructor came in and people were becoming more and more upset, crying, and visibly shaken as we watched more of the destruction unfold before us.
He stood there watched a few moments, put his head down, his shoulders slumped and then turned it off. He turned around and faced us. He told us that those that needed to leave could go home but those that wanted to stay would continue on with our lesson, that we needed to focus on something else for a little bit.
Half way through our lecture, I got a phone call, I excused myself, went outside to take it. It was my guard unit doing a phone recall. Verifying where we were and to be on standby waiting further instructions. The one thing I was always prepared for and had been training for years, my job to defend our constitution and country if called upon to do so.
I went back to class, a few minutes later a couple of other guardsmen got their calls as well and excused themselves. When they came back in we just looked at each other and nodded.
A silent acknowledgement of what we knew could be coming but hoping it wouldn’t. I was fortunate, that call never came for me, the rest of my career.
After class ended, I walked back to my car, it felt like the longest walk ever. My body felt heavy with this sense of grief. I sat in the car a few minutes and cried, prayed for those that were lost that morning, their families and for my kids.
As I drove home I could see the affect of the chaos that was occurring over 1400 miles away was having on the people around me.
There were long lines forming at the gas stations. I stopped to grab something to drink. People were consoling one another, others seemed in a daze, scared or disbelief discussing what had happened. It was all around me.
I went and picked up my kids. I just needed to be able to hold them and know they were safe.
My husband called, his work was sending everyone home, he didn’t know for how long, and he called to see if I was okay. I told him that I picked up the kids and was heading home.
I wanted to cry, the sadness and feelings of helplessness was overwhelming. I never cried or showed what I was feeling in front of my children. I didn’t want them to see me that way. They’ve only seen it a few times since then when this day comes each year.
That evening, my husband kept the TV on and continuously watched the aftermath for days on end. We argued over it, I didn’t want my kids to be further exposed. They had seen too much already and it was hard to explain what was going on to them .
It was beginning to show in their drawings, pictures of buildings on fire, and people falling. I showed it to him. He finally moved his watch of the coverage to a second room where he could shut the door. I tried to keep the same routine going with my kids.
Our family was never actually the same after that day. I became more protective of my children and he further withdrew from me. We never actually talked about we were feeling or letting those emotions out to one another.
I never watched anything further about that day and still can’t even now, 19 years later. The twinge of feeling helpless, grief, and sadness is still there. I don’t know when it will end or if it will.
Instead, on this day, I wake up, say a prayer for those that were lost, my children, and for the people around the world that remember with us.
It was an event that changed our lives forever.
We will not forget.