Fourteen years. Fourteen years and the pain and the memories have not left me yet. The fear. Oh, dear God ... the fear.
It's easy to say, "It's been fourteen years now ... you should be over it by now."
Or ... "Does anyone care anymore?"
Well, I'm not over it. I'll never be over it. All it takes is seeing a plane soar across a blue sky and I remember. I remember the sounds of it. The shaking of it. The quiet panic of it. The people running in the streets of it ... asking, "Do you know what's happening?" or "Do you have cell service? I can't get cell service."
I remember asking, "How many do you think were in the towers?" of a man who lived in the city. Unlike my husband and me. We just happened to be unfortunate guests.
"Thousands," the man answered. "Thousands."
I remember walking ... walking ... walking ... aimless walking. Everyone seemed to be heading south, even as those heading south were running north. Stopping at the New York City Library on 5th and 42nd, sitting on the stone steps between the lions, my arm linked with my husband's. The sun beat down on us, us and those like us, who had stopped to catch our breaths. Close enough to the tragedy. Far enough away to be safe.
And then the fighter jets went over.
"Get me out of here," I said to my husband, knowing he could not. Knowing we, like so many other, were stuck. But grateful. We were, at least, alive. Not that we had been able to let anyone know.
When would the cell service open up again?
I remember that night. The storm rolling in. Falling on the floor, crawling to the corner. "They're bombing us again," I shouted until my husband said, "It's only thunder."
I remember breathing in and breathing out and not realizing what I was taking in ... until days later when, congested, I began to cough. And cough. And cough.
What did I spit into the tissues and napkins? Who did I spit into the tissues and napkins?
Oh, dear God ...
And so now you say, "It's an old story." And I say, "No, it's not." Or now you say, "They won't tell it to our children in the schools, along the way ..." And I say, "Yes, I will. I'll tell it."
Because I remember. I'll always remember.
Where were you?