I assume it is like Pearl Harbor in that we will always remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when this happened. I was at Notre Dame, earning my Masters in Accounting, and living with my long-time friend Kelly. She woke me up and told me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in NY. At first, I didn't think too much of it, assuming it was a personal prop plane that probably lost control. She had the news on and by the time I came out of my room, the second plane had just hit. We were shocked and didn't quite know what to make of it all. So we finished getting ready and headed to class, sort of just stunned. I was supposed to give a group presentation in class that day, and I remember a girl in my group coming up to me before class and wanting to discuss the presentation. I remember looking at her and thinking, "Are you serious? Do you know what just happened? Who cares about this stupid presentation!" Our teacher cancelled class, noting that he had several colleagues and friends who worked for Deloitte in the twin towers and he hoped we would pray for their safety. I walked into the student lounge, which was packed with people watching the tv coverage. As soon as I got a good view of the tv, the first tower fell. I think I instantly started crying in shock and disbelief. Then the second tower fell. Pretty quickly, a mass was organized in the business administration building and I went to that to join others in prayer, which was all we could really do at that moment. I went back to our apartment and Kelly and I were glued to the tv the rest of the day and on into the night. I, of course, talked to my family on the phone and Paul, who was working in Chicago. I wanted him to stay away from the city - we didn't know if another big city would be attacked too. We were engaged at the time and I was terrified of losing him.
I remember everything about that day, but I don't remember much about the days to follow. Somehow, we picked up and kept going. Our lives had changed. Our national security changed. Our airport security changed. Everything changed. I remember flying home for Thanksgiving just 2 months after this happened. I was so scared and almost didn't come home. My mom knew how scared I was of flying - I was scared of flying before this even happened and now it was just exacerbated. She told me it was up to me if I wanted to fly home. It was the busiest travel day of the year and I would say everyone was on full alert on the planes. Each person eyed each other and nobody got up without everyone watching them carefully. I am sure there was quite a lot of racial profiling going on, but that wasn't something we had even had a term for quite yet.
That spring, I finished my degree and went home to prepare for our wedding in June. I couldn't wait to marry Paul, but mostly, I just couldn't wait for him to get to FL. I was terrified that something would happen to him before he could get home. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and being upset. I went into the kitchen and my mom woke up and came out to talk to me. She asked if I was nervous about the wedding and I told her I was nervous about losing Paul. I am confident that those thoughts would have never even entered my mind if we had been married prior to 9/11. Once he finally landed in Jacksonville a few days before our wedding, I was able to relax and really enjoy everything.
So much has happened in the last 10 years, but I think that 9/11 has forever changed the way we think and function. As a mother to 3 small children now, my hearts aches in deeper for those who lost loved ones...sons, daughters, mommies and daddies. I have watched some tv coverage of the events (that is a great excuse to be late to work by the way, right Bob?) and I have had to turn it off. I can't watch it. It's not because I want to forget what happened - I don't think that could ever happen. But I also do not want to relive those feelings and memories. It still feels so raw and when I think about that day, it still brings tears to my eyes. We all move forward in the best way we can and for me, that means not thinking too much about it because that drives me back to that fearful place where I almost cannot function. I live in my bubble, and that makes me happy. I am so blessed in so many ways and I continue to pray for those who were lost that day, and have been lost since that day in our fight to protect this great country. God bless this country and all of you!