Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I was relieved to wake up Sunday morning, Sept. 11, 2011, to find a gloomy, cold day to go with my mood.

Even the birds, including a migrating Philadelphia vireo - a very uncommon backyard visitor - haven’t been able to lift my spirits. On the back porch I heard the first siren at 8:46 a.m. and the second at 9:03 a.m. and I remembered.

Ten years ago, on a cool, cloudless, sunny day, my husband and I were on our way to visit friends in the Boston area and then, a few days later, go on to join another friend who had taken a house on Cape Cod to celebrate her 40th birthday.

We were in the car after getting the mail from our PO box in town, at 9:03 a.m., when we heard the report of a plane hitting the second of the World Trade Center towers. “This was no accident,“ MH said. On the road, me driving and trying to comprehend it all, MH got a glimpse of the towers burning. Both would be down within an hour.

We arrived at our friends’ to find phone and email messages already coming in from people who feared I might have perished. I reassured them I had not.

I worked for many years in lower Manhattan, almost 10 of them at 2 World Trade Center, 27th floor. I went to lunch with a co-worker to a place across the street 18 minutes before the first bombing took place in February 1993.

I was lucky that day, and lucky in 2001 because I, that office and my remaining co-workers were long gone - the office to Newark, me to another job in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. Many of my new co-workers, especially those with window seats, were traumatized by what they saw.

Life has changed over the past 10 years, not always for the better.

You can’t walk into most buildings without going through a metal detector or using a “keycard” or other form of picture identification to get where you‘re going. I stopped flying because of the cumbersome, invasive security procedures. The economy has tanked. We’ve lost thousands of men and women fighting one war in Iraq and then another in Afghanistan to finally “get” the villain of 9/11, Osama bin Laden.

Unlike others, I felt no thrill at his death. We are still feeling the effects of the damage he caused 10 years ago. We can never go back.

MH and I did not go to the dedication of our town's new 9/11 memorial Sunday. We have been to many memorials in New York and New Jersey over the decade - Staten Island’s near the ferry terminal, the Morris County one on West Hanover Ave., the lookout at Eagle Rock Preserve in Essex County.

We will go to this new one soon, too, but not today. Today, remembering how luck played its part, we are trying to have a “normal” day while feeling anything but.

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