Anniversary of 9.11

As I reflect on September 11, 2001 I remember seeing a huge hold in the WTC before getting on the PATH at Grove Street in downtown Jersey City. If I hopped on the train, chances were I would return home around noon if things were that bad.

Once I emerged from the 9th Street station, I walked to Washington Square Park where students were running across in bedlam, on their cell phones, sobbing and in panic. Something was definitely wrong.

I looked across the park and down LaGuardia. There was no WTC.

I was working at 4th & Mercer then. I went to the office, and NYU had decided to shut down. I'd stay in the city to help manage any student crises. By noon, PATH trains were shut down.

I'd walked part of the way to Midtown, got on a bus. Covered in ash, people around me were hysterical, talking about having to run through the streets downtown. Eventually, I'd made my way uptown to Innwood and stayed with friends that night. I couldn't get through to my folks until the next morning.

When I finally got through, I said to my Dad (he was the one who picked up the phone), "I'm fine. Spent the night in Upper Manhattan. Am planning to make my way home so long as the trains are running."

As I hopped on the 1 train back to the PATH the next morning, the silence was both deadening and peaceful. Almost no one in transit, no one uttered a word. I wasn't sure what had happened. I just needed to get back home to Jersey City.

Within the next couple of days, I found myself volunteering with the Red Cross, placing emergency items in boxes that were being shipped across Hudson River from downtown Jersey City at Exchange Place to WTC. We heard that the body bags the firefighters thought they needed an abundance of, weren't necessary.

In the months ahead, I was obsessed with reading every individual's bio who had died in the WTC posted in the NY Times. Tearfully I spent my mornings at work wanting to give each person my time. A moment to honor them. My heart goes out to all those families who lost their loved ones so unexpectedly.

Life is a such a miraculous gift.