I’ll always remember…
I was in 7th grade Spanish class when we heard about the towers. A distraught looking teacher opened our door and signaled for Senora Rand to walk over to him. Behind him, teachers were speeding back and forth in the hallways, everyone seemingly lost or in a state of panic.
After Senora Rand stepped back into our classroom, she told us to be quiet and that she had something important to say. Two planes had hit the twin towers; there had been a terrorist attack on our country. I was only 12 years old, but I remember so clearly the look on the boy’s face who was sitting next to me. He grew pale and tears filled his eyes, he started crying saying, “My dad works in the twin towers, my dad’s in there! I need to leave!” and with that he got up and jetted out the door.
Cell phones weren’t a big thing at the time. We couldn’t just Google the attack and see images, videos or news about it. We all sat and looked around the room in silence, terror, and shock. No one knew what to say. There was nothing to say.
I remember fear swelling up within me, so much so that I snuck out to the bathroom and called my mom to see if I could go home for the day. I had heard other students saying that if they attacked us once, they were going to attack us again, and that probably wasn’t their only attempt. I was, as my mother liked to call me, a “worrywart,” and was having small panic attacks that I couldn’t wait to be picked up.
As I waited for my mom in the lobby with other students, I peered into the teachers lounge to see the rolling TV stand and teachers crowded around the screen. It was the first time I had a visual of what everyone was describing. It honestly felt like I was watching a movie. To think that what we were watching on TV was actually happening in real life made me nauseous. It felt surreal, and even now when recalling memories of that day, those initial feelings of heavy sadness, grief and uneasiness flood back to me.
It was so long ago and I was very young, but I can still remember in vivid detail the unrelenting love that poured out of strangers, neighbors, family, friends, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMT’s, doctors, and nurses - anyone and everyone - for the following days after the attack. If you didn’t experience it firsthand, you witnessed it on the news or heard about it in passing conversations.
Tragedies have a unique way of bringing people together, most times closer than we were before. In the midst of such catastrophe, we tend to rise above fear and sadness and do what we have to do for the people around us, whether they’re family, friends or strangers. We forget our own needs in the pursuit of helping others.
I’ll always remember where I was that day, the fear I felt, the look on the boy’s face who was sitting next to me, and how in a moment’s notice, your whole world can change. In some ways, the events remind me of this past March, when panic seized our country and we all didn’t know how we’d handle what lay before us.
And yet, people bought groceries for the elderly, created weekly Zoom calls with family or friends they only spoke to briefly before, stocked up on canned goods and necessities to share with neighbors, and medical workers continued to go into the trenches every day. We did the best we could given the circumstances, and in some cases, we did more than we ever did before. Those events changed who we were as human beings and how we view our existence in the world. It taught us how short our time here is and the impact we can make on others if we choose to live from a space of love.
I send love and gratitude to those who put their life on the line every day in order to protect and help others. My heart goes out to everyone who lost someone in the events of 9/11 and the memories you harbor each year when this day passes. My prayer for you is to continue to heal from wounds that sometimes open again, as hard as you try to keep them closed, and to use this day as a reminder that love is still very much around us. Love and light will forever prevail over any evil, for we are made of love, and love can never be torn, broken or tarnished. It forever remains. My heart is with you.