Remembering, Ten Years Later

Today, I stayed away from the TV. I had seen a promo for a “full broadcast of 9/11 events, in its entirety”.  While I suppose watching the BBC broadcasts might offer a different perspective, I spent a few horrifying days glued to the television ten years ago, paralyzed with shock, and have no desire to repeat that, to relive those days. Judge me if you wish.

On that morning, I was sitting at my desk, most likely with coffee in hand as I went through my email – I can only assume, as everything leading up to the news is pretty much a wash in my brain. I saw a co-worker tear through the office, and I went looking for him to see what was up. He was switching on the television (which, honestly, I didn’t even know we had in the office) and we all stood (sat?) silently for a few minutes watching the footage of the airliner hitting 2 WTC replay.

We had brokers in 2 WTC – the 92nd floor, to be exact, and we were frozen in horror.  Not just brokers, but colleagues, friends. We listened as he gave us updates – they were on the phones in New York – on the phones, for God’s sake – transferring the books to their Chicago office, like any of it mattered. We were relieved to hear they were ok, but prayed that they’d put down the phones and get the hell out of the office.

From what we learned afterwards, they probably did get out of the office…but didn’t make it out of the stairwell.

However, at the moment, we didn’t know this. We prayed. We stood anxiously, hoping against hope, high in our own office in downtown Chicago, staring across the Loop at the Sears Tower – where we had recently vacated our old offices on the 92nd floor.  And, not being able to help it, we were all a bit grateful we were no longer in THAT building, as “who’s to say it couldn’t happen here?” ran through our minds. It was a sobering thought.

Then, the towers fell.

Not long after (moments? hours? again, it’s all a blur), the boss sent us all home.

It was the most surreal bus ride of my life.

It had to be the shock, causing that  feeling of detachment, as if  watching the people on the bus on a movie screen. The bus was, eerily silent, packed with numb commuters, and at the same time a bit manic, with some people madly dialing their cell phones, clearly trying to ring family and friends in New York, and sobbing, just sobbing.

Everyone just wanted to get home.

I don’t think I turned off the TV for the next 18 hours. I can’t even recall if we went to work the next day. The US markets were closed for days, but the foreign markets were still open, so we may have needed to go in, but I honestly cannot remember.

When we did go back, we learned that none of our friends, none of their team, had made it out alive. They were gone: Diane, Allison, Adriana. My bracelet club girls.

I’ll explain: For Christmas a year or so before, Diane had picked out  Tiffany’s bracelets as the Christmas gift from their company; all the girls on her desk had been given one, and now the girls on our desk had one. It was our own little bracelet club, Diane laughingly called it. Diane always seemed to be laughing.

I still have a hard time wearing that bracelet. I know I should wear it more, as I really do love it. But, when I do, it reminds me that life is too short and there is no guarantee it will go as planned.  I think we all want to believe we have more time than we do, and really, the days pass so quickly now, and I have enough regrets – so I tend to avoid it in my jewelry box.

I shouldn’t. I think we could all use a visible reminder that life is not to be taken for granted – not a moment of it. But I think that it is part of being human, this unacknowledged invincibility we feel.

I wore it today.

I wore it today, and I hugged my kids. I tried my best to keep my tongue in check and be in the moment.

I wore it today, lest I forget.

That life is too short.

That when you walk out that door, or kiss your children goodbye at the door to their classroom, say something you don’t mean – that might be it.

No second chance. No do-overs, no take-backs.

That you only get one chance, really. And every second chance you may be graced with, well, that is a gift from God.

Or, perhaps, that every day we wake up, that is a second chance. I’m not sure.

So today, I mourned. I privately mourned my friends, and said a prayer for all those who had to live on after the loss of their loved ones.

But I was also grateful for these ten years that I have lived on.

As tomorrow. Tomorrow I will live. Loudly. Joyfully. Gratefully.

Will I yell at my children? Probably.

And loudly.

And I will hug them, too. They give me hope, joy and purpose.

Comments

  1. I remember that day. I remember talking to you.

  2. Beautiful post…

  3. Beautifully written, Jenn.

  4. Jenn… Hugs and much love. A beautiful post, my friend…

  5. A very gripping, memorable and beautiful post.

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