My husband is the one who remembers everything. He actually can freak people out with his memory, being able to recollect the smallest detail of the first time he met them or where he had seen them in the past. I usually stand by as he’s introduced to someone and I see the glimmer in his eye as he realizes that 15 years ago he had met them at a beer fest in Nowheresville. And I’ll roll my eyes thinking “oh here we go…” as I hear him asking them things like, weren’t they wearing a navy shirt and white shorts when they met? And didn’t they have a younger sister who had gone to Peduka U? And wasn’t their favorite food sardines but they had had an allergic reaction to sardines and spent most of the evening throwing up at the beer fest? And hadn’t their hair been a lighter shade of auburn? Yes, he has a fantastic memory (for totally unimportant things). I usually don’t remember all the details. I don’t recall faces quite as easily or know what movie theater we saw our first movie together in. I don’t remember what football team won two Columbus Days ago.
But today… I remember. I remember EVERY detail of this day 8 years ago. I remember what I was wearing. I remember the phone call I had with my mom that morning as I walked down Madison Avenue in Manhattan on my way to work and actually said to her, “mom, is it going to rain today? It looks really cloudy downtown”. Little did I know that those “clouds” were actually billows of smoke from the first plane that had JUST hit the Trade Center. I remember the confusion and disbelief I felt when I walked into my office that I had only worked at for 7 days having just started this job. I didn’t have friends yet at work. I didn’t have anyone to hug or anyone to hug me as I worried about all of our friends and family that also worked and lived in NYC. I didn’t know what to say to my co-worker whose fiance to whom she was supposed to marry 4 weeks later worked on the 92nd floor of the Trade Center. I can still taste those tears that I cried that day as she realized that that wedding was not going to happen.
I remember not being able to reach Tim for a couple hours after everything happened because all of the lines were down. I also remember the relief I felt when I did actually hear his voice, my husband of only 4 weeks at the time. I remember the look on his face when he finally made it to my office having walked from his, and the feeling of his arms wrapped around me and the comfort I felt knowing we were ok. I remember finally getting in touch with my brother who worked downtown and actually had to run from the debris as the tower fell. I remember the candlelight vigils we attended for weeks afterward. The vigils we were a part of on street corners with complete strangers but who we all of a sudden felt a bond with having gone through this trauma together.
I remember the anger I felt at the Upper East side ladies who were upset that day that their favorite shoe store had closed early. I remember sitting on the couch hours upon hours in a row not being able to unglue my eyes from the TV. Hating watching it all but not wanting to miss a second of it. I remember the pit in my stomach each time I heard someone ELSE knew someone who had been there. I remember wanting to give every fire fighter and every police officer a hug and applauding them as they drove down to ground zero for the recovery missions. I remember waiting in line for hours to give blood only being turned away because there was no one who would need it. I remember reading every single day for months and months after in the NY Times the stories of those who lost their lives so quickly, so tragically.
I remember all of this as if it happened only months ago, not years ago. I watched the memorial this morning and for the first time since 2001 didn’t cry tears. I was able to watch it without crying. And that was hard for me because I don’t want to forget one thing about that painful day that changed the way we all live. It has made me have a new appreciation for life, but has made me a little afraid of the world we live in.
I wonder how I will share my story of that day with my kids. I want to be able to portray the bravery of those who fought to save lives both in the air and on the ground. It will be hard to explain it because there just isn’t any explanation for how hideous the day was, but even though my kids were not even alive, I don’t want them to forget either.