Eleven Years ago today — I was working in 7 World Trade Center on the 39th floor. I was working for Citigroup Asset Management at the time, and on Tuesday mornings — we had a global operations call at 7am ET. By 846am, the day was well underway. I was in my office, which had a window overlooking the courtyard, with the North Tower right outside my window.
What happened next sounded like a loud, deep, solid thud. I stood from my chair, walked to the window, and looked out the window, down to the ground — thinking something very large, and very heavy must have been dropped in the street. It was then that I saw all the paper. Tiny bits of paper falling from the sky. Followed by a rush of smoke. Followed by a ball of fire. I backed slowly out of my office, — looking to the right, I found myself staring at the man in the next office — who had just done the exact same thing. I said, “Holy Shit, they bombed the building.”
I was lucky that day. I made it down the 39 floors, and out of the building, into the City, into the chaos. Everyone lucky enough to survive has a story from that day. As I stood up there, on the 39th floor, with hell breaking loose around us, my mind became aware of what was happening. One simple thought kept playing over and over in my head, as if on a perpetual loop. “Oh No, this is not going to happen, I have to go home.” Because at home, were two tiny little girls, Caitlin (6) and Erin (5) who needed me to come home. Unfortunately — that’s not what decided our fate that day. All of those less fortunate victims, had someone at home, that needed them to come home that night too. But it would take days for people to come to terms with what happened that day. To come to terms that no one was coming home. It’s still heart-breaking to think about it, even all these years later.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I just kept staring at it on the news — as if looking at it would help my mind accept that it was real. That it really happened. It all looked so small on tv. I kept telling my mother, or anyone who would listen — “it’s so much bigger than it looks. It’s a huge area down there. It looks so small, but it’s really huge”.…..The shock held me that night. Would not release me to sleep. Not for a few days.
It still feels the same, 11 years later. It holds me. The memories. The shock. And occupies my mind, my heart, and my tears. I feel fragile today. I think we are all more fragile today. And this will never change.
Every year, as this anniversary draws near, my mind, my heart, and my soul remember that gorgeous, blue-sky Tuesday. The day was picture perfect. Until it wasn’t. Never Forget. Never Forget. And kiss your babies tonight. Life is fragile, and fleeting. Don’t miss a moment of it. Live it with purpose. Live it with abandon. Live it….for all those who didn’t get a chance to.
Ciao for now……and may god bless their souls. Diane