I was driving to the park with my almost 3 year old son, though I hadn't yet reached the end of my street, when I saw my neighbor in his driveway pacing and looking distraught. I'm not clear if he was watching a portable TV or listening to a hand-held radio, but his face showed shock and terror. I stopped and asked him what was wrong. After a few moments, he told me that the World Trade Center tower had been hit by an airplane. I continued on to the park, not sure what else to do. Surely it was a terrible accident and not deliberate as my neighbor, Mike, suggested. The rest of that morning was a blur. Was it safe to be outside? Did this really even happen? Even though I was living in Florida at the time, no one knew what was going to happen next. It seemed that no one was safe.
An hour later, I was home in front of the television trying to make sense of it all. I was pregnant at the time with a baby I would later miscarry and I sat with my hand over my belly wondering what kind of world I would be bringing this baby into. I cried as I watched the rescue efforts and thought of the families who had just been torn apart by this senseless act. And I hugged my son tight.
But the thing that I will remember the most about September 11, 2001 and the days afterward was the silence. Yes, there was the near constant blaring of the television and its haunting images as we tried to make sense of it all. But when we stepped outside, there was an unaccustomed silence. There were no planes in the sky. No jets overhead. No small planes. The skies remained eerily silent as we all took in the full impact of what had happened, wondering if there was more to come. We all felt vulnerable. And raw. And the world seemed to stop. The nation paused and seemed to mourn together, even as the rescue efforts continued. There was a collective silence that I hadn't experienced before. Or since.
And so it is in that same reverence that I pause on this September 11, 2011 to remember those whose lives will never be the same. For my friends and clients who lived in NYC at the time who are forever changed. For those who lost friends and loved ones. Eventually, the world started to return to some semblance of normal, but for many it was forever changed.
In the silence, we remember.