Those were the first sounds I heard that morning. I turned off the radio and got into the shower, wondering what kind of mistake a pilot could have made to put a plane into a building. I was sad thinking about all the people in the plane and wondered what kind of lawsuit the airlines was going to have on their hands.
I didn't quite understand.
September 11, 2001I finished getting ready for work, got in the car and turned on the radio. The news was coming fast and furious.I only processed bits and pieces.
First plane...hit the tower....second plane....hit the second tower....burning...fire....smoke...rescue crews..terrorist attack...casualties...terrorist....
I don't remember that day as a whole. I remember it as individual moments.
I drove a main highway to work and saw cars just stopped on the side of the road-the people inside staring off into the distance. I didn't stop. I listened. I cried. I was scared. What was happening?
When I got to work, everyone was huddled around a small TV in the break room watching the increasingly horrific events unfold.
I called my mom. I told her I loved her.
I called my husband. I cried more.
I cried all day.
We all did.
The store where I worked closed early and we were sent home. The store manager said,
"Be with your families. Sit with them. Hug them. The world as we know it has changed."
I don't believe I will ever forget how I felt the moment I heard those words leave his mouth.
I had to get gas to be able to make it home that day and when I pulled into the gas station I couldn't believe what I saw. Lines of cars ten deep or more at each pump. Mass hysteria about gas prices had set it. It took less than five hours.
When I got home, my husband and I huddled together on the couch to watch the news. We wanted to comfort each other but neither of us knew what to say.
We sat there for hours. We didn't want to watch it but we couldn't stop.
We didn't eat.
We couldn't sleep.
We watched as New York City filled with smoke and debris and tears. We watched as the towers fell. First one, then the other, from every angle imaginable.
We watched as people made their final heartbreaking decision and jumped to their death from their office windows on national television.
It was the first time I had heard the words Al Qaeda, but certainly not the last.
Planes stopped flying. I remember not seeing one- not wanting to see one for days.
When our airspace opened back up, it was strangely frightening to see them there again.
As they say, you never forget where you are and what you're doing when history happens.
I became an adult that day.
While I don't feel the sting of those moments with the same gut wrenching intensity as I did then, the memories of that day and the following hours, weeks and months are there today, speaking to me softly.