Although we’ve been living in this building now for over 3 years, every other 9/11, we’d never really thought to go up to our roof to see the 9/11 anniversary lights above the World Trade Center that shines up into the sky. Every year, I see posts about remembering 9/11, the lives that were lost, the lives that are still with us but are changed forever. Because I hadn’t lived here at the time of 9/11, nor did I know many people directly who were affected, it felt very far removed from me. Even as a resident here after I moved, I still didn’t feel that connected to it. But for some reason, this year, the social media posts actually made me feel something. I read lots of heartfelt posts from people who were in New York, who had family who were in New York and were scared for them when they couldn’t get in contact. It really tugged at me and made me wonder how terrifying it would have been had I known anyone there at the time or had been here.
I started thinking about the people who worked at the twin towers who died, and the ones who had offsite meetings that day that were supposed to be in the building who survived. I thought about all the phone calls urgently made to those who worked in the towers that were never received because it was too late. It’s a depressing thought. In some ways, it reminds me of the night when I knew Ed was missing, and I tried calling his cell phone number multiple times even though I logically knew he had disconnected it months before. Those feelings of helplessness — you never really quite move on from it.
So much of our lives are not in our control, and that in itself is a terrifying thing. I always meet people who seem so confident, so sure of themselves and their life plans… but what if it doesn’t quite go their way? What if they get diagnosed with stage four cancer and die in a year? What if their spouse gets a sudden heart attack at age 40 and dies? What happens to your plans then? Life can change in just an instant. And there’s nothing really to console you then at all. You just have to hope for the best.