12 years later...I woke up this morning, turned on the news, and saw my TV was tuned to the channel that is replaying the newscast from September 11, 2001.
12 years later...I can still see the dashboard on my way to work, and the radio's digital face, when I heard that a second plane had hit the trade centers, realizing, alone in my car, that we were at war.
12 years later...the feeling of horror remains as I drove into the parking lot of my office on Long Island and saw, across the bay, the towers burning.
12 years later...remembering the telephone calls that day from friends I hadn't spoken with in years, frantic, asking if I was okay. And finding out that my California friend Jan, who was in New York for a meeting, was scheduled to be on flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco...two days later. If the terrorists had waited until Thursday, Jan's flight would have crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Jan was lucky...and not so lucky. She was four months pregnant when she was visiting Manhattan on 9/11. She lost the baby, a little girl we think, who would now be 12 years old.
12 years later...I can still hear the sobs of the fireman in the bar that afternoon, where I and co-workers went to have a much-needed drink. I wonder about that fireman now, who had retired just weeks before from the New York City fire company from which every person was lost in the South Tower.
12 years later...my stomach churns at the memory of the rumors: that a 747 was crossing the Atlantic with a nuclear bomb, headed for New York City; that dozens of planes had been hijacked; that some might have chemical and biological weapons on board. My stomach churns at the truth: of fighter jets flying over my office; of the news that the towers had collapsed; at my conversation with a doctor friend, who said he rushed to Bellevue Hospital to help, and had nothing to do because most of the victims were already dead.
12 years later...when I see video of those jets blasting into the trade centers, obliterating people who were sitting at their desks having a cup of coffee, I cannot...cannot...get my head around it. That, and the images of people jumping from a hundred stories high to get away from the flames, and the sound of their bodies hitting the pavement.
12 years later...I still hear the voice of Memphis friend Gloria's husband Ed, shouting in the background while I was on the phone with Gloria that the Pentagon had been hit. This morning Gloria sent me an email saying how 12 years later she can't believe she's still so raw about the 9/11 attacks.
12 years later, I'm still raw too. And I'm still crying on the date our world changed forever.