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Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

It is hard to believe that 9/11/01 was seven years ago. If I let my mind return to that day I recognize that it was the beginning of a short period of madness for me. I literally lost my mind that day.

You see I was one of the people working in the vicinity of the Twin Towers. My building was a mere four short blocks away – for those of you unfamiliar with urban terrain – I was about a quarter mile away.

That day the morning sun shined brightly in a sky of sparkling blue. It was a perfect day for my morning run. So I left for work on a later train – a blessing in disguise. As I walked up the stairs of my subway stop I heard people saying “a plane hit the TwinTowers.” I said to myself it could only be a Cessna, a prank gone awry.

But the sight that greeted me when I surfaced was one I will never forget. The towers were burning and my first thought was – the firefighters, they are going to lose their lives trying to save people. I wanted to drop to my knees and pray in the street but instead said a silent prayer and proceeded to my building.

My office on the 17th floor had a clear view of the drama unfolding and when I entered I was met by two co-workers both near hysteria. One said "I heard it! The plane, what’s happening?" And I calmly responded “Terrorists.”

My statement was based on the facts. One plane is an accident, two planes - intentional.

I placed calls to loved ones. I reached my boyfriend in Philly but not my mother in NYC. The office administrator called in and I told her what was happening. As we were speaking I looked out of the window at the fiery inferno.

The sight of a jumper free falling put me into gear. I hung up the phone quickly and told everyone to evacuate. We shared our plans to leave the area and wished each other well.

I ended up with the receptionist. He was a handful. I am calm, cool, and collected in the face of danger. He absolutely is not. I had to threaten to slap him silly and leave him before we were able to proceed.

You’ve seen the rest of the story –we ran through the streets, when we finally looked back we saw a solo tower and later none at all. We made it to midtown where I ditched him. I needed to care for self and we were out of immediate danger.

I went to Macy’s searching for a phone. None worked. The Pennsylvania Hotel – hoping for a room, none available. And it was there that I realized the extent of the attack. I stood in the lobby shaking from adrenaline and fear; people asked if I was okay but had no remedy when I responded in the negative.

I walked the streets in search of luxurious accommodations - if this was the end of days I wanted a Jacuzzi bath and champagne for company.

The best I could do was a couch in a fully booked Bed and Breakfast owned by a stranger from my hometown.

I went back to Penn Station in hopes that a train could take me home. If that didn’t work my alternate plan was to walk to Harlem. My thinking, “Terrorists won’t bomb Harlem.”

As the sound of fighter planes flying overhead reached the gathered crowd somehow I heard above the din – “first train to L.I.” – on my line. I raced to the train, prayed for safety and arrived home physically unharmed.

But the madness hung around for awhile. I stayed in my bed for the full week following the event. Finally turning off the TV when the images flashing across the screen became too much to bear. From my window I could see the smoke of the smoldering buildings, so I had no view. Sleep occupied my time. When I finally returned to work I donned a surgical mask as did all that walked the streets surrounding ground zero. And on a daily basis I had a birds eye view of the rubble that was once the Twin Towers.

At that time I realized my mortality and pressured my boyfriend to marry me – I even designed and purchased a ring for myself. He talked me down. Returned the ring.

After months of therapy I was in a better place. But the images will never leave me. And that day will always haunt me.

This is in memory of the thousands of people that lost their lives on September 11Th, 2001.
May they never be forgotten.

52 comments:

Babette said...

Renee, thank you for sharing. God Bless.

Jyl @ MommyGossip said...

Wow! I cannot imagine being right there. This is a powerful post, Renee. I am glad you made it through this horrific experience.

Ms. Bar B: said...

Very glad that you were able to pull through. Tragic events take a huge toll on everyone involved and sometimes the events are so great that people don't recover. You recovered. You are strong and wonderful and most importantly you are all these things and did all that you did for a reason.

I replied to your question that you asked over on my post, you can circle back when you have time =)

Tammy Warren said...

Oh my goodness. I am sure it will be hard day for you as well as many others.

I remember that day well. I was holding Dylan in my arms. He had just turned one. I was watching it live on CNN. I cried, I shook, I screamed in anger. I was so full of fear that I had never known. The biggest fear was how to protect my children. Then the story kept growing. I realized that I lived in a high threat area due to our missile defense, army base, nuclear power plant, etc. I have never been smothered in my entire life.

I so feel for the families. I lost nobody. I cannot even begin to imagine.

Jyl @ MommyGossip said...

Hey again! I included a link to your site on my recent post about 9-11. I just loved your post and thought others should check it out. Hope that is OK!

mannequin said...

Echoed sentiments Renee and still tearful at the thought of those that weren't so lucky.
Visiting a while ago, while bustling through the city streets, I noticed that as we as a mass neared that spot, ALL looked toward there and slowed the pace , if even a bit.
That day, those lives will never be forgotten even to those of us not there.
I call you a survivor and I thank you for sharing that. I'm happy you're here.

Erin said...

I cannot imagine how afraid you were, and I am impressed at how you were able to stay calm. You're really brave, and I'm glad you shared this with us.

Dori said...

Such a powerful post. Bless you. Thank you for sharing this.

We will never forget them.

PsychMamma said...

I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be there. IT was horrific enough to watch through the television. All the emotions wrapped up in that day and the days and weeks following are still complicated and hard to decipher.

Hubby and I visited Ground Zero one month later and still experienced the horrible, raw emotion.

My heart still cries for the people who lost their lives and their loved ones and for the people (like you) who were there in the middle of all of it.

I'm going to snuggle with my daughter now and remember all that is precious.

Christy said...

That's an amazing story...I can't even imagine being there and how I would've handled everything. Steve's family is from NY and we both went to college there, so we had a lot of friends & family working & living in the city (including police & fire fighters) and not being able to reach them for most of the day and the days that followed was torturous. I can't imagine what it must've been like to be in the middle of all the chaos.

Mandy said...

Thank you for this post. It really is powerful. We were living oversea's at the time and my hubby being military didn't come home that night and I didn't know what was going to happen next. It was a scary time, I am glad you made it through it okay.

Diva Ma said...

Amazing post. Couldn't imagine being there and seeing those events as they happened. As most, I watch on TV and that was bad enough.

Thanks for sharing.

Designing Hilary said...

There are really no words.

Bless you for surviving and sharing. The day that always will haunt you haunts those of us who only sat motionless and speechless and powerless in whatever room we took it all in through our television sets.

{{{hug}}}

ali said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that story Renee. I can remember just staring at the TV thinking how it all seemed like scenes from a movie. Unreal.

Joanie said...

I'm so glad you're here. And thank you for sharing your story.

They will never be forgotten. Nor will you.

Big hugs and lots of love,

Da Goddess

MomMega said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing this with us, Renee. I have seen many documentaries and read many articles, but this is the first time that someone I "know" has shared their personal story. I don't even know what to say, except thank you.

Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

Most people ask "why?" during tragedy. Why Me? Why did this happen? They say "it's not fair" or "what's the point?"

They shake their fists at the sky and try and figure it out.

I don't presume to even begin to understand why, but am constantly amazed by the depth of the compassion and the teamwork (for lack of a better word right now) that develops out of tragedy. And here we are, 7 years later, politics, lifestyles, and everything else put aside for a common cause.

To remember heroes.

Thanks for your story Renee, it was amazing to read.

Lizzi said...

Thanks so much for sharing that. I'd like to link to your post on mine, if that's ok. It's so very good to hear these stories as a way of remembering what happened.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Thank you, Renee.

(((you)))

Ali said...

wow. just wow.

mrsbear said...

It was terrifying for me thousands of miles away, at work, watching it unfold from the safety of a television screen. To be there, so close to that kind of devastation. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been then and in the weeks, months, years after. Thank you for sharing your story.

Petula said...

Thanks for sharing such an intense and scary time with us. I am sure no one can imagine what it was like to actually be there, but you have given us a glimpse. And I am honored and thankful.

workout mommy said...

wow, thank you for sharing this. It brought chills to my spine.

Insta-mom said...

I flew out of New York on Sept. 9, 2001. And I simply have no words for those who were there, who survived it. None.

Just my thoughts with you.

jennster said...

crying. just crying. i know how horrific i feel inside and i wasn't even there. big hugs.

Parker Family said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing, and I'm glad that you've gotten help. This is something we will never forget.

Zip n Tizzy said...

Thank you for sharing Renee.
I felt so blessed to not be there on that day, but being a resident in NY at the time, it was impossible not to be thinking about what all of you were going through.

mysecondjournal said...

thank you for sharing..

Threeboys1mommy said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, and an extra thanks for adding a little humor. Looking for a bath and champagne, I'm sorry but thats too funny.

-btw Supermommy would have crumbled along with that receptionist. I get stupid under pressure!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with openness and honesty.

Mama Dawg said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I'm glad to know that you survived. My heart breaks for all the families of the lost ones.

April said...

Thank you for sharing your own story. It is a day we all will truly never forget.

Jamie said...

Thanks for sharing.... I can't imagine.....

CaraBee said...

What courage you showed. Thank you for sharing this emotional reminder of a horrible day that will live on in our memories forever.

SarahHub said...

Oh, your post made me cry. You are so strong to have survived that. Thanks for sharing your story, and God bless you.

-Bridget said...

Thank you for your story. I live in Atlanta but was on the Jersey side when it happened. I wrote my story of that day today too. I found it very therapeutic.

Ritchiela said...

Your post is very inspiring,iron lady!

I was still innocent that day and I never felt the impact like what it has done to you.I watched that tragic news on TV and all I said was "oh my GOD"...unbelievable eh.

The Little Black Box said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was a very scary day indeed.

Jaime said...

Thank you for sharing this. I can't even imagine having been that close to it all.
And what? You returned the ring?

Honey Mommy said...

What an incredible story. Thanks for sharing your firsthand experience. I was so far away that sometimes it doesn't even seem real to me.

I can't believe seven years has passed!

Kelly said...

i know it's hard to talk about, but your story helps so many people. i was not as close as you were, but i was close enough to watch it in person. i wrote about it. it's still hard for me to talk about. my husband doesn't understand.

Tiffany said...

I can't imagine. I had a close friend there as well... they left within 6 months.

I went to ground zero in 2002. There were still window blinds in the trees.

I am sending you lots of hugs.

anymommy said...

An astonishing story. Thank you for sharing it. We need people to write their stories down so that we do remember.

Elizabeth Channel said...

Such a powerful, poignant post. Thank you for giving us such an honest perspective from someone who was truly there.

I did link your post, too!

angie said...

Oh Renee. I can't imagine actually being there and seeing and feeling and smelling and tasting all that happened. I can't imagine seeing the bodies falling from the sky.......or any other part. Thank you for sharing. So much.

Teresa said...

Thank you for an amazing story. I have goosebumps reading it. The way that day touched everyone's lives in so many ways is unreal, I can only imagine how you felt being there.

We must never forget.

San Diego Momma said...

I cannot even imagine being so close to that tragedy.
Thanks for sharing. I always am touched by hearing people's 9/11 stories.

1stopmom said...

Wow Renee, this is such a powerful post. I could not imagine where my state of mind would be if I had witnessed what you have. You are definitely a strong woman. I appreciate that you took the time to share with us. Thank you.

dharlz said...

i will link ur post to mine, is that ok? just read it now, and I find that it's really a raw experience-- first hand...

am glad u r okay now...


http://eleanormordenoaguilar.blogspot.com/2008/09/blog-post_11.html

c.mooreinv said...

That was such a dark window to see in to but so moving at the the same time. Thank you for sharing and reminding us about the reality of life and how moving it can be.
You are Wonderful and a Beautiful woman!

Heather D said...

I just read this and wow. Just wow. You are amazing, you know that? Thank you for sharing this story. It is good to remember that awful day, not to relive the horror, but to realize how far we've come since then. Especially you. Bravo!

BOSSY said...

Oh, sister.

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