Everyone has their own 9/11 story to tell. Many tragic and some not so tragic, but no matter the experience, it has effected our lives in so many ways.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was living in Concord, California at the time with the person I was in a relationship with in a single-wide trailer at the Sunny Acres Mobile Home Park. I was sitting in the living room after having gotten showered and dressed for work when a neighbor from across the way came over, banging on our door. I got up and let him in and he told me to turn on the news. I did and seconds after I did was when the second plane hit the second of the Twin Towers in New York. I was confused and looked at our neighbor and I asked him, “What the hell is this?” That is when he proceeded to tell me about the first plane hitting the first tower just before. It was so baffling wondering what was going on and the shock of it left me just staring at the TV screen. My partner at that time came down the hall into the kitchen/living room area and asked what was going on and the neighbor told him.
I’d realized soon that I needed to head into work, still not quite sure of what had just happened and why. I worked not too far from where we lived, at a Catholic school in the administrative office through a temp agency I worked for. I went inside and told my supervisor, a nun, what had happened and she casually shrugged it off saying “Well that’s just something that happens in life, but we have to carry on.” In her saying this it told me “get to work” and that it didn’t really phase her. I don’t think she was really aware at the scope of what had just happened. I wasn’t sure that I knew. I was shocked at her blasé attitude, but proceeded to my desk where I sat down and turned on the radio.
It was all over the news and I believe by the time I turned on the radio the Pentagon had been struck. Another shock. I kept thinking that the end of the world was happening and I was scared. I ended up calling my parents to make sure they were okay, which they were, but they were a bit rattled from what was happening. Then the nun told me I couldn’t make personal phone calls and I looked at her with a blank stare and then told my mom that I would be over as soon as I could. The nun was reluctant to let me go and said that if I must I must. Well, I must and I was out the door.
I was driving my 1960’s Ford Fairmont at the time. Black with a camel colored top. No air conditioning and it was blazing hot outside. It had an old-time push-button radio, which I loved (I miss that car!). I had the news on the entire drive to my parents’ house. It was a madhouse on the freeway heading toward the Bay Bridge and everything was stop and go the entire way, even across the bridge. It seemed to take forever to get to South San Francisco and my stomach was in knots the entire way. I was a fountain of emotions, but I mostly cried and also became frustrated as people were frantically trying to cut in front of one another on the road. A man on the radio was speaking in an angered and loud voice repeating “THIS IS WAR!!!” And boy, was it ever as we’ve all come to see.
I was so relieved when I finally reached my parents’ house and I hugged them so tight, thankful that they were okay. When driving there, I had no idea if planes were crashing into buildings everywhere or if bombs were being dropped or what! All of the major cities had been in a panic, fearing that they might be next. My mom and dad and I watched the news most of the day. We saw when the Twin Towers came down and I remember my mother covering her mouth as she let out a sound of shock. I’m an emotional person to begin with so I had bouts of crying off and on that day. I ended up spending the night there because I just wanted to be with the two of them and nowhere else. Quite honestly, my relationship with the man I was with was in the toilet and nearing its end, so I didn’t care to drive back to Concord to be with him.
Meanwhile, the agency called me on my cell phone to tell me that I was being let go for leaving my assignment abruptly. I was like, “are you serious?”. I didn’t care. At this point, I didn’t know if we’d be alive to see the next day and I was with the people I cared about the most. That’s all that mattered.
The following days were spent reading newspaper articles and watching the news, which provided constant coverage of the events that had occurred and the aftermath. I remember being in such disbelief that this had happened, the missing people, the countless lives lost…
I remember going to a candlelight vigil that took place in Burlingame, which is not far from South San Francisco where I continued to stay with my parents for a few extra days. I went alone to the vigil and we were given candles with these upside-down cones at the bottom to catch the dripping wax. There was a lot of silence, even until the moment of silence. Just a few hushed whispers every now and then. There was such a sense of unity and care among everyone there. I felt the emotions rise as speeches were given about the events of 9/11 and the days following. I cried a lot. I couldn’t stop thinking about the people who had no choice but to jump from the towers and meet their fate all too soon; about the families who still had loved ones missing and didn’t know if they would ever see them again. The future was so uncertain, but one thing was certain…things as we knew them wouldn’t be the same again.
I remember it being such a sad year already. First my Aunt Pat passed away in January. Then a few months later my Uncle Jim passed away. Then in December of that same year, my Godfather Dave passed away. 2001 was not a good year at all.
Today I’m so grateful to be alive and in relatively decent health where I am able to create my jewelry. I’m so lucky to have a husband who loves me without condition and a mother who does as well. My father passed in 2011 and I miss him, but I know he watches over me and knows that I’m taking care of mom the best I can. But I’ll never forget September 11, 2001 and the shock and despair that came from it. I never have forgotten and I never will.
To my fellow Americans, I wish all of you peace and comfort on this day. This day serves as a reminder of just how precious life is and how it can be gone in the blink of an eye. Love to you all.