Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Is Where I Was When The World Stopped Turning

(Written throughout the week of and on September 11, 2009)
I was supposed to be on the 78th floor of World Trade Center Tower 2 that morning. Instead, I was safe at home in my living room. People I would've been working with, my boss (the wonderful man who hired me), gone. People I didn't have a chance to get to know and wish I did.

I called out of my job that morning because I didn't have faith in myself & my abilities and therefore no courage to continue working in Manhattan - no, the job itself wasn't what I wanted to do, but I'd always dreamed of working in NYC, because it was a Beautiful Autumn morning and I just didn't have it in me to go into work. I'd been up for awhile but only turned on the tv just before the 2nd plane hit. They were only reporting Tower 1 was on fire at that point. They didn't know. A few moments later, I watched a plane swoop around the Towers and fly strait into Tower 2. My Tower. My floor. The tv screen went to snow. (I didn't have cable then).

My ex was running around the apartment yelling that he knew it was a terrorist attack. I couldn't speak. I could barely breath. My right hand was clamped over my mouth, my eyes open as wide as I've ever felt them. My left hand was still holding my mug of tea which was now all over the floor & couch. I kept repeating "Oh my God oh my God oh my God" over & over in my mind. I don't remember getting off the couch. I was standing directly in front of the tv.

My ex stood in front of me and said, "You were supposed to be there!" and went about trying to find another channel on the tv.

I backed up to the wall in the hall, my eyes not leaving the tv. Channel 2 was the only channel still able to broadcast on regular tv. (It was the only channel I would have for months). Both Towers had black smoke billowing from them. I slid down to the floor in shock.

Eventually, just before Tower 2 fell, I was able to go find my journal and get back onto the couch. People jumping, falling. When Tower 2 fell, I screamed and was again standing in front of the tv. My soul fell with it. Now the tears came. Gut wrenching sobs. "My GOD, what was happening?!" I screamed.

More people jumping & falling. The Pentagon, attacked. Tower 1 fell. A plane crashed in a field in PA. So many rumors and so much chaos. I wrote it all down in that journal. (Which I no longer have thanks to my ex). I taped my World Trade Center ID in there.

My mother called to literally curse me out (for having wanted to work in Manhattan) and to tell me what a foolish asshole I would be to go back there. Then she started in on how she was in danger too because she worked 2 towns over from Earle Naval Weapons (inland) Station. I hung up on her.

My best friend Kathy called and when I answered, she said, "Oh thank God!" and we cried.

My other best friend Gill worked on Avenue of the America's at that time and I was in a panic because I couldn't reach her. (She was alright, we touched base the next day).

I didn't sleep that whole first night. I couldn't stop watching the coverage, praying survivors would be found. I walked around in a stunned daze for the next couple of weeks. I was glued to the tv or a radio at all times.

I was some place the day after and a woman was on her cell phone, bitching on & on about how unhappy she was with how one of her newly refinished & covered dining chairs had come out. Finally I lost it and yelled at her to take it outside because if that was all she was worried about with what had happened the day before, she'd be lucky I didn't shove her phone up her ass and give her something more important to bitch about. She made me sick. I cannot imagine who she was talking to.

It took me 3 years to begin to wonder less why I was alive & any one of those people wasn't and become truly thankful for being given another chance to make a good life & be a better person to myself as well as to others. (I couldn't for the life of me imagine how I/my life was, worth more in a sense than most who had died - I had no spouse, my daughter had passed 2 years earlier & so I had no dependants, I'd backed out of a high power stock broker job using the excuse that it wasn't what I wanted to do (it wasn't) but in truth I was a coward & had no faith in myself and I hadn't been the best person to myself and others & done some terrible things). The 'why me' & 'survivors guilt' was overwhelming for a very long time.

Since 2004, I have been on a long and sometimes horrendous journey towards healing, emotionally & physically, not just from September 11th, but my life in general. I thank God every day for Victor. Even though I wanted to go at life on my own & was fully prepared emotionally to do so, I wouldn't have made it by myself because of my health and without him, I wouldn't be here typing this now. And though I was getting better slowly physically, emotionally it was taking so much longer. And then my best friend Gill told me about GoodReads. Then I found Chicks on Lit. Then Holli friended me & our bonding pushed my healing forward. Then I found all of you & more Chicks. I now thank God every day for my blogging friends and Chicks!

This morning when I got up, I lit candles on the mantle. Tall red, white & blue prayer candles. Short white candles. The votive I used that week 8 years ago for the candle light vigil around the world. A small wreath decoration from a large wreath saved from a dumpster near Ground Zero.

I went once and stood on the viewing platform next to the Church, its' graveyard down to my right. I felt something on my right arm and waved my left hand over it without looking. I felt what I thought was a strand of my hair blowing across my right forearm and grabbed with my left hand to get it off me. I looked down and realized my hair was braided strait down my back. I groped around for lose strands and didn't have any. That's when I realized it felt like fingers running very lightly & softly up & down my arm from my wrist to my elbow. I whispered, "I'm so sorry" and left. Seeing all of the missing posters and candles had been hard. That was too much.

Never forget 9/11/01. I won't. For their sakes, so they'll know I'm doing something w/the chance I was given.


Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Oh you dear. I can still remember the shock and then anger of that day. The unbelief and being glued to the TV and feeling of greatest sorrow and helplessness.
I cannot even imagine what all you must have felt or gone through. You were surely spared that day by staying home.
My fear is that people too soon forget what happened and what it made them feel. Your frustration that day with the selfish thinking of people and their feelings of coldness at what was happening like it was all a movie or something.
I for one do not want to forget all of what I felt that day. I only hope it does not take more of it to get through peoples hearts and minds.
God Bless you.

Brenda said...

I am just sitting here unable to say anything.
Just Wow!
I have goose bumps.
I only know you from COL, but I feel like we are friends because we made a connection through our blogs.
Just double Wow! Amazing!
Well, I am not sure why some people die and why some people live. I guess none of us will ever know the answer to that one. I learned a long time ago that you should never take any day for granted.
I always get upset when people wish their time away.
Not one day.
Not one minute.
Not one second should be wasted.
Don't have survivor's guilt. Don't feel you have to do something extraordinary because you were spared. Just enjoy each moment no matter what happens.
Enjoy that husband with the cute tushie (not that we have seen a pic of it awhile).
Love to you from me. I am happy you are still here.
Well, maybe I had a lot more to say than just WOW!

Tammy said...

Wow--powerful story. Thanks for sharing your feelings with all of us. I was humbled to read it. ((HUGS))

Jo said...

Hocking Hills Gardener, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words above! Much appreciated and I hope to see you again!

Brenda, thank you! It's very difficult not to have survivor's guilt with something like this, but I'm no longer overwhelmed by it like I once was. I agree with everything else! (And you're right, we haven't had a tushie shot from my fave tushie in a while~I'll have to take care of that this week, LOL!)

Tammy, thank you as well! Hugs are always welcome and appreciated!

Lisa said...

On that day, all of our lives changed. I thought I was safe here, until I realized they were sending the president here. At the time, we still didn't know if there were more planes out there, planes that might be targeting the president. But nothing I experienced that day begins to compare to what you experienced. I will never forget--not what those people did to our country and not those people who died so needlessly.

Lora said...

I have a few friends/associates who skipped work in the towers that day. It amazes me to no end that so many people I care about just up and called out that day.

I do believe it was a reason. A chance. A blessing. A something. And I'm so happy you were a part of that chance.

Jo said...

Lisa, What I experienced that day is Nothing compared with what the survivor's who were there in Manhattan and at the Pentagon. And I thank God I did not go through that. We all experienced fear, horror and sadness that day, just to different degrees. No comparisons!

Lora, that was so sweet! Thank you! (I'm all misty eyed again!)

Kalanna said...

Jo, that's the most amazing story. I had no idea. It seems like not enough when I try to say it, but I am so glad that you were not there.

My heart broke that day - because I had visited the Towers and been up in them on the visitor's floor, because I was an American outside of my country and felt so very powerless.

Oh my friend, of all your losses, so much to carry, but I see a beautiful chance. I know survivor's guilt... of a different sort.

Jo said...

Thank you so much Kalanna! (Oh here come the tears again!)

Y'all are so sweet to me! You have no idea how much your love & support warms my heart and helps me every day. My love to all of you!

Sydney said...

That day is seared in my memory as well. Though my experience was not nearly as intense as yours. Thank GOD you were home and that you are safe. And I'm so glad we've had the opportunity to get to know each other through goodreads!

I was working in TV news at the time. Even though I was half the country away... I worked for nearly 24 hours straight. It wasn't until I got home and was able to call my parents that I broke down and was able to process all that had happened and all that I had seen that day. It's amazing to believe that it's actually been 8 years.

God bless you JO!