I could say, "I still can't believe that it all happened..." but that's not really true.
Of course I can believe that it all happened, because whenever there is anything related to it on television, I watch. I can't turn away...I feel an odd need to watch those buildings fall over and over.
For hours this morning, I watched MSNBC air September 11, 2001: As It Happened. I remarked at how completely calm Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw seemed as they talked about airplanes that had crashed into the World Trade Center...but I know that kind of calm...it only comes when you are in shock and cannot digest what is going on around you. I think we all felt that kind of shock that day...but none of us had to be on television while we were experiencing it.
I even watched United 93 on television the other night...the most emotionally draining movie I had ever seen and one I never planned on watching again after I first saw it in the movie theatre. I couldn't imagine curling-up at home and voluntarily exposing myself to it. But it was on. And I watched it, and felt those emotions that are only stirred by September 11, 2001.
There are still mornings when my commuter train approaches New York City, and I stare out at the skyline and try to remember when those buildings were there. It's weird...I wouldn't even exactly be able to tell you where they stood.
I didn't lose anybody I loved that day. I realize how fortunate I was, since it seemed like so many of our friends and family members had friends and family members who were gone. I remember calling my mother when I got home from class that day (I didn't even have a cellphone yet) and the first thing she said to me was, "Don't worry...everybody is okay." I wasn't sure how she knew that...how she was able to get into touch with "everyone" so quickly...but that was all I needed to hear at that moment. "Everyone is okay."
But everyone wasn't okay...nobody was...and nothing would be okay for a very long time.
I was home by myself for a few hours that day, and watched coverage with my dog, LuLu, sitting next to me. In so many of the shots, you could see the building by the Seaport that I had spent my childhood in. They kept mentioning rushing people to Saint Vincent's Hospital, which is where I was born.
My family's history with Lower Manhattan was really my only connection to that horrific day. I am so, so grateful that my family didn't lose anybody. I think about my own father's death, from cancer two years before the attacks, and I can't imagine all the kids that had lost a parent that day without the "gift" of being able to somewhat prepare themselves and accept the inevitable, like we had with my dad. Their parents just never came back home from work one day.
I remember a young, hysterical woman being interviewed by Katie Couric the next day. Both her boyfriend and her brother worked in the Twin Towers. Neither one had been found yet. The girl was rambling, and joking with Katie Couric, saying, just the other day, she was making fun of her boyfriend for not knowing who Katie Couric was..."because who doesn't know who Katie Couric is?"
I haven't forgotten about her. I randomly remember her. She was only a few years older than me...and she most likely lost both her brother and her boyfriend that day.
There were at least two college-aged girls on United 93. When I watched that movie and saw those young girls, I asked myself, "What is the difference between them and my friends?"
There was no difference. It could have been any of us in her place.
Today, I watched that coverage again...sitting in the same room I was in seven years ago, with a different little white dog by my side.
All those images of September 11th will never stop being excruciatingly painful to see.
They still make me cry. They still terrify me, and break my heart, and make me fear for tomorrow.
They always will.