Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'm rarely without words, but in nine years, I've barely been able to write more than a few paragraphs of distant emotions regarding 9/11. I wasn't in New York City that day. In fact, I just visited the city for the first time in May 2009. Like many tourists, I went to Ground Zero. I started out with the intention of doing a round trip ride on the Staten Island ferry first, then walking slowly up to the WTC when I returned to lower Manhattan. It would allow me time to mentally prepare myself for what I thought I would see when I got to Ground Zero.

What I wasn't prepared for stood battered and broken in Battery Park.
Standing guard in the harbor was Lady Liberty, but she was as silent as I was as I looked at the only tangible piece I'll see of that terrible day. I was with a new friend I'd met that day, so I wasn't entirely alone as I read the placard and looked reverently at The Sphere. My emotions came out of nowhere and hit me like a sledgehammer to the heart. For as uncomfortable as my friend must've felt, I could tell she felt very much the same. I couldn't catch my breath and I remember just standing there silently with tears rolling down my face and an emptiness in my heart that I've never felt before or since. I didn't know anyone who died on September 11th, yet I knew a very large part of all of us did. And we would never heal completely from the loss.

As we walked to Ground Zero together, we talked quietly about how that day affected us personally - where we were, what we saw, how we felt. It was amazing to me how very different our lives were and how the disaster touched us, yet how it brought us together on that day as we stood at the fences staring at a construction site where two of the tallest buildings in the world had once stood.

A vacant ache began in my chest and quickly consumed what was left of my composure. I crumpled in tears just yards outside fire company 10 next to Ground Zero. I read the names on the wall of the firefighters and other civil servants who lost their lives that day. I wanted to offer some sort of thanks to those at Co. 10 who lost comrades, but couldn't even catch my breath, much less speak.

While I'd felt an empty ache before my trip to New York, standing there amidst the chaos still at the site, I felt something I can't even put words to. For me? That's big. 

To those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, I honor you. You will never be forgotten.

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