Like nearly every other American alive during 2001, I can remember every second of that day in totality. I was a mere eight years old, my imagination at its peak. Unlike most children my age, I wasn't sitting in a classroom when I first heard the news - no, I was at home with both my parents, my thirteen year old sister and one year old brother. I had the privilege of being home-schooled during that time, and it was common for my father to work remotely on Tuesdays. Had my father not been home that day, I'm not sure we would have heard the news as quickly as we did.
Our household didn't have cable television, and the internet was still new enough that only my father truly utilized it when he was working. He was in the middle of a conference call with their New York office when he first heard the news. Minutes later, as he was relaying the information to my mother, I heard bits and pieces of the conversation, none of which made any sense to my adolescent mind. Was it an accident? How could something like this happen? Were we in danger? I panicked. New York City was a mere two hours away. Was this how wars were started?
I remember the confusion and fear all wrapped in that warm cocoon of being a child: my parents would surely protect me at all costs. I never stopped to consider that tragedy always falls outside of our parent's abilities to protect.
We spent the remainder of the day glued to my grandmother's television set. I talked too much while the adults dealt with this reality themselves. "The World Trade Center towers were always my favorite part of the city," I'd muse, "Remember how I always pointed them out when we crossed the bridge, Mom?" She had nodded absentmindedly.
In the years that followed, it became a tragic memorial to us all. A unifying experience searing pain into our hearts at the very mention of the date.
Eighteen years, and I still can't find the words to express how it all feels. Literally, I've scoured a thesaurus in the attempt to find the word I'm looking for. And nothing exists. Only this - agony over those we lost too soon, veneration for those who sacrificed their lives, unity for all of us left behind, and disquietude for whatever the future holds.
Today, I don't have any words to say other than I love you.