911, Never Forgotten

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I saw the smoke trailing through the sky as I glanced out the window. The television set was blaring in the background as my co-workers crowded around it. I could hear some of my friends in the office weeping quietly as they watched the tragedy unfold in front of them. My office was located in Lower East Manhattan. I work for a law firm, and I’m the top lawyer in my branch. My personal space has a beautiful view of all the things that tourists pay big money to see, such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and most importantly, the World Trade Center.

The latter was turning to ruins as I watched. No matter how gruesome the scene was, it seemed I couldn’t tear my eyes off it. I watched screaming people rushing by in the streets below, some bleeding, others covered in ash, and still others wandering around aimlessly. it seemed like they were too shocked to react to it. The TV screamed that the terrorist group Al Qaeda was behind the plane crashes. There were fire engines blaring and rushing to the scene. Through all that chaos, the only thing I remember were the words of my husband as he left for work that morning. They were, “I’m going to a breakfast meeting at Windows to the World in The North Tower. If you need to reach me, call my secretary.”

When I finally made the connection that he was going to The North Tower, as in the one that was going up in flames as I watched, it felt like a boxer had slammed me in the ribs. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see, and everything went black. Next thing I heard were the voices of hushed women as they quietly informed others in the office that my husband worked at the Trade Center. Slowly, I felt my eyelids flutter and the fuzzy shape of a man kneeling and staring intently at my face. Finally, I remembered again how I had ended up on the ground in the first place. Here I was fainting, surrounded by these sturdy walls which a moment ago had been comforting but had began to feel as if they were closing in. My husband could be buried under tons of ash. He could be dead. Or, he could not be. At the thought, I recovered quickly and jumped to my desk phone, jabbing my finger at each button, feeling as if the towers were collapsing on me as if I were trapped under the rubble, along with the hundreds of people I’m sure were down there. I prayed to god that my husband was, by some twist of fate, all right. I, a woman who hadn’t gone to church since Bill Clinton had been elected,was praying. It felt like the only thing to do; and so I did, more ferverently than I ever had. My prayer was cut short by a dial tone. Of course, what an idiot I was! The building was in ruins. How could a phone work, let alone have someone answer it?
The only thing I could think to do was to wait. I couldn’t just stand there. I needed to move, and so I did. I ran through the building and into the elevator.The calming elevator music bothered me. How could something be so soothing while there was tragedy taking place so close by?! Finally, I hit ground level and ran out the elevator. I flew through the lobby of the building as others stared in confusion. The scene was much worse from the street. Now I could see peoples actual faces, the blood running down bodies like waterfalls as strangers comforted each other through tears. That was definitely something you usually never saw in New York, where everyone kept to him/herself and barely acknowledged others as he/she strode past. I was going in the direction from where others were running. This scared me, but what scared me even more was the fact that my husband could be dead right now. I started running.
As soon as I got to the scene of the horrible crash, I nearly threw up. I was horrified. Bodies that had been pulled from the wreckage were piling up everywhere. Any of those could have been my husband. Millions of questions popped into my mind. Where was my husband? How could some group be as cruel as to kill thousands of innocent people? Why today? Why didn’t I stop my husband from going in? Will I ever see him again? All questions ceased when I caught site of one of my husband’s good friends, who was head of the New York City Fire Department. I rushed to him and started to shout his name. He turned to me and his entire face grew sad. I saw a single tear fall from his eyes, eyes that had become red from smoke, and I’m guessing even more crying.
When I reached him, I saw something even worse in his eyes, regret. I asked about my husband. His face became twisted, and I braced for the worst. He then preceded to tell me that my husband was found underneath roughly seven feet of rubble, and he could barely move. My friend then began to sob and tell me that he had done everything he could to get him out, but that there was just too much rubble to be moved; and after many shouts between my husband and the fire fighters, his shouts had become less and less, until there was nothing at all except the wails of others in the distance. He tried to get more response; but after five minutes of nothing, the other men had to give up and move onto the next victim. Standing in front of me was a 6’7’ burly man crying his eyes out like a child, yet I didn’t feel anything.
I couldn’t move. I was numb. After standing there for what seemed like hours, the news finally reached my soul. Then the tears came. Not just the quiet whimpers of a mother sending her only child to college, but the mind shaking sobs of a new born baby. I couldn’t do anything. My husband was gone. My life and my hopes for the future had died with him. The sobs began to hurt, but I couldn’t console myself. The only person, I thought, who could make this sadness go away was my husband. That thought made me die inside. I cried harder and harder until I could cry no more. Soon my sobs began to fade; and I became a shivering, whimpering creature. On any other day, I would be ashamed of myself for acting so emotional in front of strangers. But this was not any other day. This was 9/11. The day my soul perished along with 2,595 others.





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