Turn on your tv.
I don't know if I called her or she called me, but we spent the rest of the morning on the phone, watching the news in horror. Periodically we would hang up and call our husbands, but then we would get back on the phone with each other. When the Pentagon was hit, the feeling that this couldn't really be happening intesified.
Together we watched the first tower collapse. I gasped and started crying. Staring at the tower still standing, imagining how many flights of stairs people would have to go down, I said, "There is no way all those people had a chance to get out." My friend responded in a small voice, "Don't even say that, Gretch." My dad is a retired career firefighter and my thoughts went to all the firefighters who must have been in the building along with the people who worked there.
My husband and I tried to decide whether to go get the kids from school. Living in the suburbs of DC, the danger felt real and immediate and we discussed what potential targets there were in our area. His work made the decision to shut down, telling employees to go be with their families. My husband collected the kids and came home.
Five years later I go back and forth between feeling like it was all a dream and feeling like it happened yesterday. Everyone who lost a loved one that day thought it was an ordinary day. That thought whirls around my brain. I was always a protective parent, but I think a switch was flipped in my brain that day. I have feelings of anxiety at the thought of my husband or kids going into DC or anywhere far away. What if today is the day something happens? My son wants to go with friends on the subway to a show in DC. Thinking about it fills me with dread. What if they choose the subways? When my son boarded a plane to China on a school triplast year I took comfort in the fact that he was heading out of the US. Surely they would choose a flight with a US destination. But I held my breath until he called me tell me they had landed safely in San Francisco, on their way to Shanghai.
I wish I could be one of those people who say they are going to live their life and not let any fear control them.
Today I am remembering those who lost someone dear to them and wishing we could safely cocoon ourselves at home.
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