I remember having Good Morning America on in the background as I got ready for work like usual.
I remember hearing Charlie Gibson announce breaking news that one of the Twin Towers was on fire.
I remember seeing it burning in a split screen on TV and thinking it was an indoor fire that had started and gotten out of control. Maybe a coffee maker or microwave gone awry. I felt so sorry for those inside. I could only imagine their panic. Wait, it was a plane? What an awful accident! Something must have happened to the pilot. What about all those people?
I remember hearing the second tower got hit by a plane on my way to work. What was happening?
I remember walking into my office and all the televisions were on. Most of our patients didn’t show up that day, but the ones who did crowded around them with us. Other than the sound of news and sirens, it was eerily quiet in the office. We all just looked around at each other… watched and waited.
I remember calling my insurance company to update my car insurance like I had originally planned to do. Attempting any business as usual and the agent asked me if I knew what was going on. I did. And didn’t. Just like him. It felt like the world really did stop turning.
I remember calling my dad after the Pentagon got hit. And asking him what to do. Should I go home? He said to stay where I was unless instructed otherwise. I did.
I remember feeling like a sitting duck. No one knew when or where another plane might fall out of the sky.
I remember watching fire and police rushing in and up those towers as everyone else was doing what they could to get down and out. The ultimate bravery.
I remember my mom calling me from the airport. She had plans to fly that day. All flights were canceled and they had turned off all monitors in the airport. She waited hours to get her bag back because they went through them all. She remembers ATF and their dogs ascending on the airport in such force that she wondered where they came from. She remembers being the only car leaving the airport when she did and how strange that was in the middle of the day. Her 9/11 ticket is framed to this day.
I remember her confusion and fear. And mine.
I remember she drove straight to my office. We went to lunch. Like two deer in the headlights not knowing what on earth else to do.
I remember waiting to hear if my cousin was in his office at the pentagon that day. And the relief when we found out that he wasn’t.
I remember the deep sorrow followed by anger and helplessness we all felt as the facts and people were uncovered.
I remember the shock, grief, confusion, fear, and uncertainty.
I also remember the patriotism that followed. And the heroes who emerged. A sense of unity and comradery. That we would come back stronger, wiser, more determined to take care of each other. As Americans. But most of all, as fellow humans.