10 years ago today we stood on this beach in Cape May, NJ on the last day of our long weekend. It was a Monday and my parents joined us on their first day of vacation. There’d been a fishing boat accident that weekend. I don’t remember the specifics but it was something to do with a fishing net and hundreds of dead fish washing up on the beaches of the Jersey Shore. It didn’t occur to me at the time but maybe it was an omen of things to come. We left my parents on this beach and made our way back home. We had no idea that we were leaving the world as we knew it behind.
There are days when September 11, 2001 seems like it was a million years ago and others I can’t believe it has already been 10 years. 10 years ago my grandmother was still alive, my father had yet to have a heart attack and I did not have cancer. Like I was saying last night life can certainly change in a heartbeat. It was a beautiful September day with bright blue skies as we drove across the Walt Whitman Bridge that next morning. We were listening to Good Morning America on Channel 6 on the radio when the first plane hit. I can’t remember if we were still on the bridge or already on I-95 when the it happened. My memory of that day goes from looking out our car window thinking it was truly a beautiful day as U2’s song “Beautiful Day” played in my head. My next memory is of us sitting at a complete stop in traffic on I-95. It was the second day of a new construction project and traffic patterns had changed. I remember sitting in the car freaking out feeling trapped (I’m a lil claustrophobic to begin with) with no place to go and stopped traffic on both sides of us.
When we finally made it to my office I begged Chuck not to go to work that day. His office is in Center City and I didn’t want him to go, but he said he needed to go to work and so off he went. I went up to my office and told my coworkers what was going on. Much as I like numbers I can’t remember what time the mayor decided to close the city but I do remember that it took Chuck 90 minutes to go from Center City to Fishtown. I didn’t have a radio with me and this was well before smart phones so I stood out on Delaware Avenue and hoped nothing had happened in Center City, propping myself up with the thought that I was probably close enough to hear if anything had happened in Center City.
When Chuck finally made it to me we started am excruciatingly long ride home to NJ. I didn’t have the phone number to the hotel where my parents were staying in Cape May and I’m not even sure I actually owned a cell phone in 2001. I remember I just wanted to get home to tell my mother that I was okay. I remember thinking that my brother must be devastated because he loves New York City. I remember there was an accident at Five Points, which made our excruciatingly long ride home even longer. I remember ordering pizza for dinner that night because we didn’t have any food in the house after our long weekend. I remember being surprised that any place was actually open.
I remember in the days following the tragedy that missing posters covered the area surrounding ground zero. I remember so many people desperately hoping that their loved one would be found alive and I remember how many that were not. Tonight is not the time for politics. Tonight is the time to remember that life does change in the blink of an eye. Remember if when you close your eyes tonight all of your loved ones are safe and where they belong you are blessed beyond measure. Say I love you. Say I’m sorry. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to say it again.
Sleep well my lovelies. I love you all.
~ Carol Anne