I wrote this on my phone and then shared it on Facebook.
I want to share it here as well.
The skies were crazy for days on end. All hours with the F16 scrambles. Thunderous jet engines and their afterburners looming throughout the skies, flying low, shaking the quickly made houses which proliferate so much of Fairfax County.
I remember a candlelight vigil at the end of our street that evening. I remember the resilience of a nation, steeped in rage stemming from fear. Our collective naïveté was shattered that day. The vulnerability from the exposure was crushing.
Yet, the children. They still giggled and ran and hopped. That was more precious, protecting them in the midst of such unfathomable loss and woe.
I live in Northern Virginia. I was in carpool line when I first heard the news, dropping off my oldest son at preschool, hearing a haughty Dennis Owens on WGMS announce “some sort of aerial accident in New York City … Possibly a Cessna crashed into a skyscraper in midtown…” Then I drove home.
Learned more. Watched a second plane burst into flames upon impact into the second tower behind Katie Couric as she was broadcasting a continual feed of the events as they unfolded. Silence. Nothing but silence. Black smoke and orange-red clouds filling an otherwise perfect blue sky. The same cloudless sky above me, 250 miles south.
Then the Pentagon. 11 miles away.
I called my husband. Told him to collect our son. He did. We both hunkered down together, with our eight-month-old second baby. Trying to stay reasonable, rational.
Then I knew fear was sidling up beside me. Here to stay. That was what the terrorists wanted. Fear is their currency.
My older brother lived in and worked in Manhattan. He survived the 1993 attempt. He survived the 2001 attacks; but barely. He was on the approach to the chaos, a drive in him to somehow help, learn more, be present, when the first tower collapsed. A tidal wave of smoke, dust, papers, existence overtook him and other fellow travelers. Covered in dust from the atomization of humans and industrial debris, he crawled to safety (was never in the Towers, but had a meeting scheduled nearby, in his workplace) by entering a familiar building despite the wash of dust all over the town.
I’ll always remember that day. And when he was located around 1pm. Dusted with ash, virtually unrecognizable. In shock. He bumped into a college friend he hadn’t seen in years who was waiting out the madness in a pub with colleagues. His friend was outside the pub on his phone, trying to connect with his own wife. He saw my brother, powdered with immeasurable remains, and took him in and walked him home from Chelsea.
On the following Monday, my brother rode the subway and wore the same suit, he’d had it dry cleaned, in strength and courage to work. He rode the elevator up to his office. He was determined to not give in to fear.
There is much more to say; there always will be. The feelings are ineffable.
Honor those whose memories should never fade. I chafe at the phrase “Never Forget”; it’s so war-like. I prefer “Always Remember.”
… And life goes on. I hear the birds chirping outside. A breeze makes the leaf shadows dance on the floor beneath my feet. The tick of our cheap clock behind me. The air pushing through the vents in my house. The same house I retreated to that day. I feel the rise and fall of my chest with sound of my own breath, today, 14 years later.