I Remember... 9/11
I remember the sky that Tuesday morning, bluer than blue.
I remember the late start, sleeping in after a late-night call with my sister-in-law, Lisa.
I remember watching it on The Today Show – the first hit, but hearing it happen down the street. I remember staring at the screen. “What am I seeing right now?” My brain couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening about 600 feet away at the World Trade Center.
I called to Kep, just out of the shower, to come see. He, too, was heading into work later than usual.
I remember Kep acted quickly. Decisively. First, he checked on his friend’s family. Chef Douglas Rodriquez was traveling to Westchester that morning. Kep headed over to see that Nelly and their newborn son, Dario, were ok.
I remember when Kep was gone, the second tower fell. It was eerily quiet as I watched out the window at what looked like confetti falling, slow motion, from the sky.
I remember feeling relief that my babies were safe inside my belly. That my body was filtering their air—that this unthinkable ashy air was not entering their tiny lungs. I was 7 months pregnant with twins. I was scared for their health. But I really felt Nelly’s fear and horror, being a mom of an infant.
I remember Kep came back about 30 minutes later. He could barely breath. He ran across the street with a wet towel over his mouth. He told me Nelly’s building filled with smoke and the secret service weren’t letting people out. He defiantly ran past them to get back to me.
Kep had me fill the bathtub with water. And any bowls and cups, in case the pipes stopped working and we needed fresh water. Then he had me run towels under water, twist them, and place them in front of the front door to keep out potential smoke.
I remember hearing voices over a bull-horn outside telling us we needed to evacuate our building. I remember not wanting to go.
I remember packing my bag and Kep’s, not knowing how long we’d be gone, while Kep went back to Nelly’s to tell her to pack bags, too. We were leaving together.
I remember Kep and a police officer lowering me and my watermelon belly onto the fireboat that took us across the Hudson River, over to New Jersey.
I remember all of us getting off the boat at a triage center, hitch hiking for several hours in the heat to a hospital where Dario’s lungs were tested for the amount of smoke and dust he inhaled. I was checked out, too, and the babies appeared to be fine.
I remember more hours of hitch-hiking to meet Douglas.
I remember Kep and I glued to the news in our Marriot hotel room that night. I remember Rudy Giuiliani. The interviews. The footage. The tears.
I remember going to my mom’s in Hull, MA the next morning. And staying there about a week. I remember calling Scholastic from there. Feeling marooned. I remember Kep borrowing the car to go to Kinko’s each day, to use their wifi, to connect to NY – his friends and co-workers who lost people. His clients and livelihood.
I remember staying at the Tribeca Grand for another few weeks before air levels were tested in our apartment and we were allowed back home. How lucky were we to be allowed back? Other buildings were condemned. Filled with ash and smoke. We walked into our apartment just as we left it: water in bowls, water in the bathtub, clothes thrown on the bed from my quick packing. How damn lucky were we to be alive?
I remember the police checkpoints to get into our neighborhood. The moving vans lined up and down our streets of families with young children leaving, leaving, and I remember I didn’t want to leave. I never wanted to leave. I wanted to give NYC to my children as a gift. “Here, Connor and Maddie. This magical place is your city, and always will be.”
I remember leaving, tearful, almost two years later.
I remember how bluer-than-blue September skies remind me of that bluer-than-blue September NYC sky before it turned black.
I remember the brothers and sisters who are not here.
With love and gratitude,
Want to write?
Take a pen & prompt journey:
I remember... 9/11
2. Keep your pen moving as you write the thoughts, feelings, and images that arise. Don’t stop to think or edit.
3. Accept ALL that you write - the pretty + ugly; absurd + boring. Discover what wants to be felt, known, expressed, released...