18 years ago today looked like this:
A husband and father dashing out to catch a train after wrapping up a quick diaper change before leaving.
A 3 month old in one arm with a warm morning bottle, while the other arm was feeding a 3 year old his breakfast.
The skies were cloudless and an AMAZING clear, perfect Blue much like the photo below.
The air was cool, crisp and refreshing.
It was a new day, a new beginning, and the kind of day one would say was perfect in all ways.
We were Catching an episode of Sesame Street as we sang nostalgic happy tunes before heading off to my son's first day of Nursery school.
A happy morning buzz broken by the ring of a telephone, and a frantic voice on the other end telling me to turn on the news.
As if the entire world fell from my feet, my knees began to shake as I placed the kids in another room.
My heart sank and joy turned to horror as I watched my husband's workplace pierced by a plane.
Chaos, smoke, fire and bodies jumping out of buildings on the TV screen, sent me into horror and panic.
The rational side of me trying to calculate from the time he left, caught the train and arrived at the very place that was now in chaos. Counting the floors up the building ,trying to figure out if it hit below, above, while praying it was not the exact floor he worked on.
Phone call after phone call kept interrupting my calculations, which were oddly keeping me from total panic.
Dozens of phone calls of "have you heard from him?" trailed off until I tried to figure out what to tell the kids, if anything at all.
I don’t recall having cell phones then, we had beepers and service was down everywhere.
All I could do was distract my children and keep running into the other room to watch the TV.
“What a horrific accident”, I first thought, but when they announced a second plane, I realized this was no accident. We were under attack.
My three year old wanted to play outside since I told him that school was cancelled. Realizing we may be under attack, I grabbed him and kept him inside. I was too frightened to even go in my backyard, fearing bombs may be dropped from the sky. We cleared out of the top floor and remained on the main level in case we needed to flee fast.
For some reason I remembered panicking that I did not have enough diapers,
so when my sister-in-law called asking if I needed anything, that was the only thing I could think of.
I kept thinking "this cannot be happening"; "my children will have no father and I will be widowed". It is every young Mother's nightmare. The flood of phone calls stopped for a while and I sat and waited and watched.
What seemed like hours passing, the phone finally rang, and it was him calling from a pay phone. I could hear the chaos in the background. Relieved and grateful he was safe and alive, but still stricken with worry.
Later he explained that, that last minute diaper change saved his life because he missed his train. As he entered the plaza at 2 World Trade center, the second plane hit and he missed being on the elevator within seconds. He hurried off the phone, and it was 8 long hours before he returned home dusted with ashes reminding us where he had been. His first words as he entered our home were, "Our Lives will Never be the same again".
To this day, I never forget these words. You see my husband and the father of my children survived 9/11 and I will always be grateful for that. However, our marriage did not survive. After losing his close friends and colleagues he was never the same. Our marriage crumbled just like the twin towers and we were separated by the end of that year. Fortunately, for the sake of our young babies we remained friends and still remained involved raising our children together.
So this is our story, my story, and how I came to be a strong and independent woman and mother raising two young babies without anger, without worry, with gratitude, with dignity and with compassion for all.
It took me 18 years to tell this story. I choose to tell it with love, no regrets and with an enormous gratitude. You see, we don't really know what crosses people carry, so when we run into someone that seems angry or rude or abrupt, remember that we have not walked in their shoes nor know what they have experienced. Although we may never forget, we can forgive!
Today, I can tell you, although I wish 9/11 never ever happened...it happened, and we cannot change that. But we can change how we tell the story of how it affected us. For me, it was a great loss, a broken family, a broken marriage, friends lost, spirits broken. But...with all that said, it made me who I am today and just because we are broken does not mean we are damaged. The only way “light can shine” through a window pane covered in ashes, is when it is broken! Today, we continue to stand strong as a family, but just in a very different way, and that is okay!
This is how I chose to tell my story and I thank God and the practice of Reiki to help me get there!