It was supposed to be an ordinary morning. The alarm would go off. I’d listen to the talk radio, dose off for a few minutes, listen some more and then force myself out of bed.
As usual, I’d be the first one in the office, and I’d pray that everyone else showed up before the boss.
Lateness didn’t set well with him.
Over coffee, I would listen to what my co-workers did the previous evening.
Whose kid didn’t clean up her room the night before. Who had a headache because the office was too hot. Who had a headache because the office was too cold.
We’d complain about customers who didn’t pay on time. Rant over a jammed printer. Bitch about the mail arriving late.
It was supposed to an ordinary morning.
But the only normal occurrence that morning was the sound of the radio clicking on. After that, nothing was normal.
It was September 11, 2001. 6:40 a.m. PST.
The talk jock mentioned something about not only one plane, but two that had just crashed in the World Trade Center. I flipped on the TV to the most horrifying sight. Yet, I didn’t quite grasp that it was real. That I wasn’t watching a movie.
While I watched, a man’s voice spoke from the Pentagon. Less than ten minutes later, he shouted that the Pentagon had been hit. Hijacking number 3. On my way to work, I heard about Flight number 93.
And then I cried. While driving on that ordinary street through my familiar world with office buildings, convenience stores and gas stations on every corner, I cried.
And nothing has been the same since.
That day at work, we didn’t talk about what food we undercooked the night before. Or whose husband didn’t help with dishes. Or how hot it was because the air conditioner wasn’t working.
Collectively, we listened to the news as it unfolded.
Privately, we listened to our hearts. And began to sort out what was really important.
It seemed insignificant to complain or worry about those small things we worried and complained about only the day before.
We had each other. We had our health. We had a “tomorrow.”
With each new story, I couldn’t help but wonder what the people in the World Trade Center might have been thinking. Were their last thoughts about a mortgage payment? A bad hair cut? About an argument with their spouse?
With each new story, another of my tears fell into the atmosphere already so heavy with sorrow and anger.
Now, sixteen years later (yes, sixteen years!) I know what is important and what is not.
I keep in touch with friends on a daily basis.
I say “I love you” to my husband, my sister, my parents, my children and my grandchildren each time I say goodbye. (Sometimes to telemarketers because I forget who I’m talking to.)
I’ve put my life into perspective, taking a good look at the big picture, at the scope of things.
I plan for the future, but live, truly live for the moment.
I want to feel textured emotions from each rich sunrise to sunset.
To thread the fabric of each hour into the next.
To welcome the darkness without “should haves” or “what ifs.”
With time, there became another ordinary morning.
But I will never forget that day when it all turned upside down.
My heart and prayers go out to those families and friends whose lives were forever changed.