I survived 9/11…walked out of the rubble created by a hatred that I will never be able to comprehend. I suppose I will never have the capacity to understand humans killing other humans, rejoicing in bloody murder, horrifying death.
I never had nightmares, even though I saw so much that day, even though I could have been one of the names spoken at memorials. Even though the questions “Why? Why was I there that day? Why am I alive and so many others are not?” have been ones that I will ponder for the rest of my life. I wonder more about what my purpose in life is, there must be one since I am still here. I try to find that purpose.
So no nightmares, but since that day I think about things that I never would have likely thought about if 9/11 hadn’t happened, if I hadn’t been there. I think about things that I wish I could make myself not think, but I know that will never happen. These thoughts will accompany me the rest of my life, I’m sure.
Elevators and buildings blowing up. I work in a skyscraper so, you know…I just get on the elevator anyway. I used to love to take the elevator to the top of the building I work in, to see the panoramic view of the city…now, when I’m up there (because I have to be, never for the pleasure of it), I am uncomfortably aware of my vulnerability.
Every time I get on an airplane, I’m acutely aware of what COULD happen. I avoid large public gatherings, imagining mayhem and destruction and no way to escape. I always know where the exits are, wherever I am. If I’m out somewhere and I hear raised voices, the mere hint of possible violence, I’m gone.
We went to the rodeo last year. When you leave, you queue up for the shuttle buses. The place you line up is under a huge canvas tent; it was an incredibly windy day. The tent, which is held up by heavy metal support posts, would kill many people if it fell, quite likely. I was not the only one who was looking up anxiously at the shaking, creaking metal supports of that tent while we waited…waited…waited for the buses to come. But I was the only one who could not bear to stand under that shuddering tent, continually being buffeted and lashed by the wind, a moment longer. I do not trust tents erected by mere men to withstand gusting winds, in fact we saw just a few years ago a training tent in Dallas collapse. I simply could not stand there and trust that nothing bad would happen. Because it’s not true, bad things do happen. I could not stay under that tent, it was like alarm bells were clanging in my head saying “Get out, get out, get out!”. I know my husband thought I was being irrational that day, but I’m not irrational. I am not crazy. I am a person who knows that safety is an illusion.
No nightmares…just a constant awareness of the death and destruction that can descend at any moment.
I can only image what you went through. What a terrible day. What an imprint it’s had on all our lives.