Writing this book is an emotional journey. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I also didn’t expect to have tears running down my face at the coffee shop today. I was so immersed in my writing that I didn’t even realize I was crying until the woman behind the counter asked me if I was ok.
It’s Tuesday, September 11, 2018.
Ironically, I’m at the point in my book where I’m writing about my experience in New York City on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I was only 7 days into my professional career as a public relations Assistant Account Executive at the headquarters office of a global PR firm. I was so stoked to have landed my dream job, and I was a fresh-faced newbie New Yorker at the time. (This past blog entry gives a play-by-play of the day, through my eyes).
But it’s actually the events that followed which brought me to tears during my writing session today. It was my journal entry from September 13, 2001… my first day back to work, after the events of September 11. I was 22 years old, and it was during my morning commute when I found myself sandwiched between bomb threats at Grand Central Station, Penn Station and Times Square. People were running in different directions, and I felt helpless, not knowing which way to run. Armed military officials patrolled the streets and train stations while helicopters and jets flew overhead.
Bomb threats were coming from what seemed like every direction. The city was frantic, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I eventually made my way back home that day and didn’t return to work until the following week.
Each day during my commute, I found myself reading countless missing persons fliers posted all over Grand Central Station. I looked at the photos and read about the people who were never to be seen again. I did this for months following the terrorist attacks… until the flyers became torn and faded. With each passing day, my heart broke for the families whose loved ones were now gone.
It was only two years after Brad’s death, and the memories of losing him were still so clear. Maybe it made me more empathetic for the families who were experiencing the death of their loved ones too. The ‘how’ was different (terrorism, not suicide) but the emptiness and grief these families faced was the same. I knew there were people – families – behind the fliers, and my heart broke for them again today.
That’s the thing about having your whole life on paper… Moments that may have been long forgotten reappear. The actual photos of their faces… there were so many, and they’ve since disappeared from my memory, but I’ll never forget the empathy I felt (and still feel) for those families.
I still can’t believe it’s been 17 years.