I was alone five years ago, today, the day four planes were sent to the United States to kill innocent people and give Bin Laden and his groupies one big group ego orgasm.
I was a single, divorced mom, who had spent the summer adjusting to being laid off from a job I adored. The job had provided me the means to support my children and not require any help from their father or the government. I’d gotten the kids to school, and was checking email early in the morning from my computer in my bedroom.
I was in regular contact with the guys I had been working with before our department was broken up with layoffs during the dotcom crash. They were like brothers to me and via IM, they kept me company. Online, I had email friends from all over the world because of the groups I belonged to, based on my variety of interests. One of those Internet outlets was an email group of spiritual adventurers. We had an email list that discussed or debated all things religious, spiritual and metaphysical. It was from that group that I first got word about 9/11.
Michael, from Australia, sent an email to the group that read, “What the HELL is going on over there?” I was one of the few who were online then. It was morning on the east coast of the USA. That email list was not like a forums. Replies were rarely instant. But I was sitting at my computer, so I replied right away with, “What do you mean?”
He shot right back, “Turn on your TV, NOW!”
I did so, to see one of the Twin Towers on fire. Immediately, there’s a sense of disbelief. I was riveted. I forgot about Michael for a brief time, but then I began posting to the group as I learned what was happening, since more people from outside the USA were starting to check in.
Before long, on live TV, I watched the second plane hit the other Tower. I began changing TV stations, trying to learn more. There were reports of a plane over Pennsylvania. My state. New York city was one and a haf hours north of me. Thousands of people where I live commute there to work.
I remained in my bedroom, with the TV, computer and phone. I was talking to my old software testing engineer buddies, who were at work, and just realizing something was wrong, but they had no TV. They were feeling disconnected and craving information. When the towers fell, I just watched, and felt such an enormous ache, knowing I was witnessing the deaths of people. It’s not something I’m used to.
Somehow I came to learn that the schools were keeping our kids safe, and that the teachers were keeping the kids calm until parents could get home or to the schools. Many parents ran to get their kids. I began working on my own self, so I would be centered and ready to answer the kids’ questions. When they got home, we continued to watch the TV.
As news traveled, my email inbox lit up. The most memorable email came from my friend, John, from Norway. I could read how terrified he was because his email was brief, rather than our usual longer ones. “Please tell me you’re okay!” he pleaded.
I don’t remember when I thought to email the New York city cop I knew back then. I had met him online and in person later. He’s the only New York city police officer I know. Tall, handsome, New York accent and Italian pride. He and a fellow officer stopped a van leaving the city, that contained explosives. He would later admit to being shocked, and completely pissed off. Never scared. Not a hot blooded musician who loves people and chose a career that puts him in harm’s way as protector of those people.
One of my co-workers, who was a friend of mine for eleven years at that point, came to my house to check on us. Three years later, we got married.
How important is it that we keep revisiting September 11? I think it helps to reinforce the resolve of people who continue living, despite the threats. Last night, Americans had a choice on whether to watch a two-part, non-factual retelling of the events, in “The Path to 9/11″ TV mini-series, or watch Football. Americans chose football.
It’s a game we understand.
Related discussion: Is It Enough to Just Remember September 11?