13 years ago…

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

It was my first full week of seventh grade. I remember the night before my family and I were at my Grandparent’s house and I was sitting on the porch steps making up my mind to fake sick the following day because I didn’t have the correct calculator to use in math class and I was still a loner with no close friends.

My family did not have cable so I only could get a small amount of channels in my bedroom. I would always sleep with the television on because I was afraid of the dark and to this day – afraid of the silence.

I had the television set to channel three – NBC. I woke up earlier in the morning to make my announcement to my mother,

“I don’t feel well today. My stomach hurts. Can I stay home?”

I scurried back up the stairs and plopped back into my bed pretty excited that I did not have to go to that dreaded horrible place that day!

I have always been obsessed with The Today Show, so naturally that was what was on while I laid in bed. I ended up dozing back to sleep hearing Matt Lauer’s voice,

“We just got word that a plane has hit one of the twin towers.”

I was in between dreams but I could still hear Matt’s voice. I opened my eyes to see a building engulfed in smoke playing on my TV. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Was this a movie trailer? Or am I still sleeping? Being a naive 12-year-old, I honestly had no clue what I was truly witnessing. I kept watching and saw the second plane hit the other tower and then I heard my Mother yell.

She was on the phone with my Aunt. I quietly walked to the top of the stairs to listen to her conversation. I made sure I was quiet because I didn’t want my cover to be blown. I was not sick but I had told my Mother I was.

“I cannot believe they hit the second tower. This is terrorist Mary. It has to be. I can’t believe this is happening!”

Terrorist? What is that? I silently made my way back to my bed and my eyes were glued to the glowing light of death. The tone in my Mom’s voice scared me. Even though I couldn’t understand what was happening, I knew whatever just happened changed everything.

I tried changing the channel to see if any cartoons were on but I had no luck. The same two smokey buildings were embedded on every channel. I decided to muster up some courage and make my way down to my Mother.

She explained to me what was going on even though I still could not believe that this was actually happening. All that my small brain could think of was the fact that people decided to be selfish and kill themselves by taking over an aircraft and crash it into a building which in result would murder thousands of people which then led to my small brain thinking the following:

What if someone got fired that day?
What if someone got hired that day?
What if someone was late?
What if someone missed their flight?
What if someone gained an earlier flight?
What if someone had an appointment and said they would be late to work that day?

My brain went on and on and would not stop. I was trapped with these horrible thoughts. I was trapped, and then I witnessed humans jumping from the buildings. Which led me to think more horrible confusing thoughts.

“Oh my God! People are jumping!” My Mother said.

We got word from the news reporters that there was a plane that hit the Pentagon and then one landed in a field in Pennsylvania. My Mother kept deciding whether or not to go get my Father from work. He was working on a roof that day only minutes away.

My Mother loaded us in the car and we were on our way to tell my Father what was happening. She knew my brother and sister were safe at school and should be home in a little while. On our way to my father, we heard over the radio that one of the towers collapsed.

“Oh my God. We are going to be at war!” She said.

We finally made it to my Father who was listening to music while standing on a ladder. The sun was hot for an early September day and he was glowing with sweat. My Mother spilled everything that was going on to him, only yo find out he had no clue.

“War? We are going to war?!” I began to think. War defined in my 12-year-old mind was similar to the images of the Civil War. I absolutely had no clue what war would consist of in 2001.

My Mother and I made our way back home to witness the second tower collapsing. My brother and sister came home from school and my Father from work and we were all glued to the television that night.

I had my TV on that night and to this day, it makes me extremely uncomfortable to hear sirens because that is all that I heard that night on TV  – sirens of ambulances trying to rescue anyone they could find.

I find it fascinating that we as humans are capable to remember a day paired with tragedy than any other ordinary day. I will forever remember this day as it was yesterday. I will forever be that 12-year-old confused little girl who truly did not know the extent of what was truly happening in the world. That 12-year-old girl falling to sleep to sirens with hope they find people alive.

Today marks the 13th anniversary of that day. Even though, I did not lose anyone that day, or lived in the places where tragedy hit – I was affected. We all were affected.

We should never forget or erase what happened on that Tuesday morning. We should always remember and embrace it.

So, hold the ones you love close – always. Tell the ones you love that you love them – always and live your life like it could be your last- everyday.

Do you remember where you were 13 years ago today? Share with us your day in the comments below.

@Sararosewheeler

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