This morning I rode into Manhattan from New Jersey and took the PATH train from Hoboken across to the World Trade Center. As the train pulled into the station, which looks out over the hole in the ground where the towers once were, I caught glimpse of the memorial service going on there to mark the five year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City.
I was not downtown that day in 2001. I worked in midtown then, and the closest I came to the towers that day was 34th Street. I did not lose any friends, though several were in harm’s way. My primary memory of 9/11 is of the eerie silence that descended over the city as I walked by myself north to the Upper West Side, where I was living temporarily.
Then, as now, I was living apart from my family. It was a temporary arrangement while we transitioned from our rental to our condo. My younger daughter was still just an idea. My older daughter—then my only child—was far away with her mom in Utah, awaiting the move to our new home. I shared the trauma of September 11 with Uncle D.
I was reunited with KK and E about a week later, when I finally was able to get on an almost entirely empty flight to Utah. When I arrived I cried as I hugged them with relief.
It seems strangely appropriate that I remember 9/11 today with my family far away, as they were five years ago. Today I feel the loneliness of that day five years ago. I offer nothing profound as I remember 9/11. It was a tragic, traumatic day. I remember the lives lost and the sacrifices made. Though the tragedy and trauma of my own life over the past year is of a very different kind than what we are remembering on this fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, I am nonetheless feeling my own very personal loss today.
But I'm grateful that I also feel hope today, just as I did then. I've always been an optimist.