I was at my desk, at work. It was a Tuesday, we had a new employee starting, and I was going to take her around and take her under my wing, tell her how things worked... I was fairly senior in that department a lifetime ago.
As I took a break, I checked a message board (a cooking board, as it happens), and I read that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. I thought it was probably a little private plane, and hoped everyone was OK. I believe I said a quick prayer. I was busy.
The magnitude of the event struck me as the day wore on. One of my dearest friends, best buddies from the age of 14, worked a couple blocks from the WTC. I knew people who worked there. I had been there many times, and I knew how many people worked there. I thought how many would have been killed, and it made me sick. In fact, the death count was far less than I had expected, but still too high.
Oddly enough, I never saw the footage of the attack, never saw the towers crumble with all the people inside them. I watched the news unfold, listening to the radio.
Globe from the World Trade Center
Images caught my attention - a river of rescue workers going UP the stairs as the towers were about to crumble...a man, covered with dust, standing on the edge of Ground Zero and shouting to the workers, asking if there was something - anything - he could do to help.
There were all the discussions. I read a post on the message board from a Canadian who actually said, 'Americans need to think, seriously and without offence, what they have done to provoke this attack.' And she thought she was being sweetly reasonable. I replied that it was like telling the family of a murdered jogger that they needed to think, seriously and without offence, what their murdered loved one had done to provoke the attack. She left the board.
Just this year, 14 years after the attack, I learned that a man I'd worked with and liked a great deal, who had left my company to go to New York - and happy he was to be back in the Big Apple! - had died in the first tower.
And I never saw the videos. I work in a business that deals with damage, injury and mayhem. I have a very strong stomach, and I probably know, better than many, the effect of an injury on a human body, and the progress of disintegration of that body after the human dies. I decided it was not fitting. I knew what had happened, I had lived through the trauma of the news, I had followed the rescue efforts, I had wondered and questioned and clenched my fists. But the footage was never being played when I had my attention on the event.
I suppose I could watch it now. But I have other images now. That man, shouting his offer to help. The survivors reporting the river of rescuers going up the stairs in that doomed building. People joining together from all over the world to send support of all types. Images of light.
I had a chance. In the heat of discussions and arguments and grieving, a friend postedTHIS is why I am angry! And she posted the footage. I watched the plane come into the screen, watched it circle around, straighten - And I stopped the video.
Never forget. And always remember that even in the darkest times we can find the light.