I got up around 8:00 that morning. My boyfriend, Masie, had already gotten up and out of bed. I stumbled into the living room to find him sitting and watching the news. It wasn’t out of the ordinary, but a lot of mornings he’d be listening to Glenn Beck on the radio and goofing off on the computer. I was standing next to the TV when he told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
“What?” was all I could manage.
“It hit one of the towers, the one with the antenna.” In my mind I pictured a Cesna clipping the antenna. A sightseeing flight that got too close or a pilot in trouble.
“A plane hit the antenna?”
“No. A plane crashed into the tower.” Even then, I was imagining a small aircraft.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what he was telling me. He had taken me on my first trips to New York, a city that I had been in love with since before I’d ever set foot there. I walked around to look at the TV and within seconds I watched United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower as I sat down on the couch.
I don’t remember talking, really. We just stared at the television, horrified into silence as we watched the buildings burn. People were hanging out of windows, desperate for air and escape. I imagined them watching the skies, waiting for rescue from above. We only spoke to confirm what we were seeing was real. We both needed somebody to tell us our eyes weren’t imagining those people, having given up, falling from the upper floors where the fire and smoke had consumed every available space. Floors where people knew their situation was beyond dire.
A little more than a half an hour later came the news that the Pentagon had been hit and that’s when horror became terror. How many more planes were out there? How many more targets were they going to take out? I remember realizing I was crying, but didn’t know when I’d started. I was selfishly relieved Masie was home with me. I didn’t ever want him to leave my side again. In some ways he hasn’t. We haven’t been together in years, but every year on September 11, I’m there with him again in some ways.
We kept watching. I couldn’t look away. It wasn’t like looking at a car crash on the side of the road. I wasn’t a voyeur that day. It was happening to all of us, wherever we were. I wasn’t in New York, but I was with the victims and the survivors. I watched with them as South Tower collapsed. I prayed for the people trapped on the upper floors of the North Tower that had watched as the South Tower went down, the people who now fully understood their fate and were now faced with the decision to end their lives on their terms. I prayed for the people in the buildings as they went down. I prayed for the people on the street, that they’d be able to live with the atrocities they’d witnessed. I prayed for the people on the planes, that they knew peace in their final moments. I may not ever understand what it was like to be there, but I tried. I tried as I prayed for a city that I’d always dreamed of calling home, a city that had such a special place in my heart. My heart hurt in a way that it hadn’t ever before or since.