Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen Years Later


The Garden in Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan Island 

I had a few dreams growing up. I wanted to write a novel, I wanted to visit Paris and I wanted to live in New York. If I had any thoughts of fame, those thoughts were limited to literary fame. I never dreamed of being an actress or singer, the ways in which most women became famous when I was growing up. I certainly never saw myself as part of a defining moment in history. Never.

On September 11, 2001 I got up, got dressed, drank coffee and voted in the primary election held that day. Then I walked to the subway to take the train to work six blocks south of the World Trade Center. My thoughts were on a meeting about our Division's budget scheduled for 10:00 a.m. The train I was riding stopped north of the World Trade Center. No trains on that line were going south. Two women on the platform said that a plane had hit the Trade Center. I, like, millions of others that day thought it was a small plane, an accident. I was focused on my meeting and switched to the other line that ran downtown. 

I emerged from the subway at Wall Street and William Street, a very familiar corner. The scene that greeted me was not familiar. I looked west and saw Trinity Church. The sky behind the church was filled with paper. A million pieces of paper filled the sky, blown out of the World Trade Center. I ran down the street to my office and in those moments my life became part of history. 

With that moment and that decision my life passed from the personal to the historical and back to the personal and September 11 became my story, as it is still, fifteen years later. Where once it was my shoes walking on the sidewalks filled with ash, there are now plaques. Where once there were barriers and debris, there is construction and buildings rise. Where once the air was filled only with death and sorrow, there are now, as well, moments of light and air. 

Though the day is a day of history and remembrance, it is still my day of memory. The sorrow and the memories always remain, always. But mercifully and gratefully, they are not my first thoughts every morning, as they were for so many mornings. Fifteen years ago today that thought was incomprehensible. I will always mourn and I will never forget the thousands who went out on a beautiful late summer morning and never came home to their families and friends. But fifteen years later I am grateful for the slivers of light that slowly pierced the darkness of mourning and memory.

14 comments:

Marilynn Smith said...

Beautifully written, Carol.

From the Kitchen said...

My memories are from afar. I can only imagine how those of you who were physically present must have felt at the time--and still do.

Best,
Bonnie

Mevely317 said...

Tears ...

Lynda said...

Those of us old enough to remember will not forget what we were doing at that time - - - the same emotions we felt when JFK was assassinated but almost on a larger scale because we realized the threat to our security and comfortable way of life. The tragedy of that day is still almost incomprehensible and to be honest, I am thankful I only saw it through the TV screen. To be there among the ashes, devastation, and grief would be almost more than a person could bear to witness. So many heroes during that time and such unification of the country and a return for many to spiritual matters. We all are forever changed - - - and today are aghast at the lack of respect by some for our flag! Thank you for posting!!!

Paula Kaye said...

I cannot not even imagine or comprehend what feelings you must have had when you saw those sights through your own eyes. I watched them, along with millions, through the eyes of a TV camera. That was devastating enough for me. I am glad you wrote this today!! Thank you for sharing!

Maggid said...

sending love - thank you for sharing -
-g-

Deanna Rabe said...

Carol,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. You were an eyewitness to that historical moment. I feel like one because we had the news on that morning, and because where we live in PA we were in the middle of the all the tragedy. New York City is only a few hours away, DC is only a few hours away, and so is Somerset where flight 93 went down.

We also have friends where the husband was FDNY at the time but it was his day off. He got called in but it was after the loss of many from his station.

It will stay with us forever.

Marie Rayner said...

What a beautifully written piece Carol. I think for many of us this was a defining moment in history. The world lost an important sense of innocence on that day and will never again be the same. I love American and mourne that loss with you. xo

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Although you were closer to the tragedy than most of us, I think that those of us who lived through that day will always remember and never forget.

Mimi said...

Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story.

Bj Pup said...

I wasn't at site. I was with colleagues on the 45th floor of 4 Times Square looking south at the flames and the black smoke. I remember staring at the building and then in a nanosecond it was no longer standing. My reaction was "what happened to the building?"

The building was evacuated soon after and we walked down 45 floors.
The next day I stood in line at the NY Blood Bank. Un fortunately it wasn't needed.

Theresa said...

Memories of that day and honoring the lives lost are forever in our hearts. Hugs

Mildred said...

So beautifully and thoughtfully written, Carol. Thank you so much for visiting tonight. I think of you often.

Kelly @ Homespuns 'n Hayfields said...

I will never forget that day and the impact it had on all of us here, I can only imagine what you must have felt and gone through. My thoughts are with you.