September 11, 2009
I will never forget.
I remember that morning eight years ago, just like it was yesterday. Jason and I had just moved to Alexandria, Virginia 10 minutes outside of Washington DC. We had only been in the area for a couple weeks. Our tv wasn't hooked up, there were boxes everywhere, and we were still in those first getting to know you stages of marriage (we had only been married about 4 months). Jason worked in the Honor Guard, and would often travel around DC doing various jobs, funerals, retirements, any type of military ceremony. I was working at a pet store, Royal Pets. It was like any normal day when I first got to work. I cleaned out the puppy and kitten cages, fed the fish and the birds, and was just getting started on reorganizing the back cabinets. My boss got a call from his wife saying the World Trade Center was hit. Weird and sad, I didn't really know what to think, NYC was so far from me, and we really had no other information. I just continued working, a little distracted, but working. Another call, a second hit, they think it was planes. Ok, now I am starting to worry a little, it didn't seem like an accident any longer. We were looking around the shop for a spare tv to hook up. Everyone was starting to panic a little. Then I heard it...sirens, lots and lots of sirens, fire engines, police cars and ambulances. The sound was deafening. And then another call...the Pentagon was hit. What happened next was so surreal. I remember standing there, looking up at the tiny tv we hooked up and saying under my breath so softly I know no one heard me..."Jason works there, he was there yesterday...I wonder what he is doing today". I just stood there, in shock. Wondering. Afraid. Confused. And all I could hear were those sirens, so many sirens. Then, like nothing had happened I continued to clean, I cleaned like I never cleaned before. Inside my head I was screaming, "where is Jason, what is going on, I want to go home"...but on the outside I was quiet and just cleaning. It was probably one of the worst moments in my life. A terrifying thirty minutes while I worked, wondering what happened. Then like an answer to my prayers, my friend Angie came running into my work. Our husbands worked together, she got a call and came to tell me they were fine and safe on base. Everything was ok. I started crying then, finally all the confusion and emotions I had been holding inside were flowing out of me. We closed down shop, and I walked home. That was the longest walk I ever took. So much was going through my mind, but at least I knew my family was safe. I had a billion messages when I got home. I put on my brave face and called everyone back, "yes yes we are ok, Jason is at work, we will be fine". I hooked up my tv, and just sat there and stared, the images are still burned in my mind, I felt like I could smell the smoke. I went and looked out on my balcony, and I could see the smoke from the Pentagon. And I cried again. I cried for the people there, and rescuers, I cried because Jason wasn't there, I cried because I wanted to go home...planes were never falling out of the sky when I lived in Utah and I felt safe. Safe. It took a long time before I got that feeling back. For months, almost a year afterwards whenever I heard a sirens outside my window my heart would stop. I couldn't sleep very well at night. Whenever a breaking news report would come on during my tv shows I would hold my breath. It took a long time to get back to normal. I was spared my husband that day, and I didn't know anyone who died, but I still felt like a little piece of me was taken away. I grew up a lot that day. I will never forget those faces that I saw on the news, I will never forget the people who lost their lives that day. I will never forget.