Because I'm just sitting down for the first time today and the date has been heavy on my heart all day and yet I just don't have the luxury of writing out all my thoughts right now because I need to study, I'm going to re-post a slightly revised version of what I wrote last year. Cheesy, I know. If you've read it before, please feel free to skip it. I won't be offended. =)
Has it really been nine years since 9/11? It feels like yesterday, and also like it was so long ago. Nine years sounds like such a long time, but it has slipped by so quickly. My heart goes out to every person who lost someone that day, whose life was changed forever in such a terrible way.
Nine years ago I was in college. My major was Organizational Leadership and Supervision. What I really excelled in, though, was skipping class, and that's why when the first plane hit the towers that day, I was fast asleep. I shared a bedroom with my roommate, and she was also sleeping. Both of our phones kept ringing, and we kept silencing them. I'm guessing we had been up late the night before...I can't remember.
Finally, one of us answered the phone, and while I can't remember what exactly was said, about ten seconds later I was slipping and sliding down the stairs in pajamas and socks, tripping over my own feet to get to the television and turn it on...just in time to see the second plane hit. We lived right next to the college and always had an open door policy at home, and before long our friends started trickling through the door, in search of a television and company. Classes had immediately been cancelled for the day and everyone was at loose ends, unable or unwilling to do normal things when something so catastrophic was going on.
I sat in the computer chair staring the screen, and I really couldn't make sense of it. My brain was so inwardly focused at the time...my life was all about my friends and my life and my everything. The sheer magnitude of what was happening was overwhelming to me, and I couldn't process it. Instead, I sat with my cell phone, dialing the same number over and over, getting the same dead air response every time.
I didn't know anyone personally involved in the tragedy, but my whole life still changed that day. The number I was trying to call belonged to my high school boyfriend, and while I can't remember if we were officially together at that point in time or not...I feel as though we were, but I don't know, to be honest. I just remember that I needed to call him, to hear him say everything would be okay.
He was the first person I'd ever fallen hard for, and he was funny, scathing, sarcastic, and flaky as all get out. He dumped me mercilessly in high school. and left me with a huge unrequited crush for a long time. After high school, he joined the Marines. At the time, we all just shrugged...I thought maybe it would teach him discipline. If only I had known. When he joined, none of us expected anything but him serving stateside, fulfilling his contract, and getting a free ride to college afterwards. During boot camp, he apparently realized his true feelings for me, and we began to talk about the idea of a relationship when he was discharged.
Instead, that morning, I realized that nothing was going to be that simple. I couldn't get through...not all day. The base phone lines had apparently been over run by people calling their loved ones and no one could get through, period. You would have thought he was going to ship out that day, the way I was acting.
Finally, late that day, we spoke, and I can't even remember what we talked about. In the end, he served two tours overseas. I still have letters from him from faraway places, filled with things that were just unbelievable to me. He served selflessly, and to this day will stand up and talk about how he wishes he could go back, help more, do more. He made it back when so many didn't.
But he's a different person now. Those life experiences changed him fundamentally. Eventually we cut ties, for various reasons, and he ended up marrying a mutual friend from high school, and the stories she would tell about him used to confuse me, make me shake my head. He wouldn't do that, act that way, say those words.. In many ways, he ended up being a totally different person than the boy I had fallen in love with in high school. His life since he returned has not been easy for him...he has suffered from PTSD among other things from his time in service, unsurprisingly, and the first few years back were especially hard. He's so intelligent, with so much potential, and his brain, his thoughts just gets in his way sometimes. Sometimes he can's sleep, and he says that he used to wake up screaming.
After a long road of hits and misses, I'm blessed to count him as one of my best friends today. It's taken us years to get back there, to the point we were at so many years ago, where we are friends without holding any of our actions, past or present, against each other. Now we're older and hopefully wiser, but for him especially, I know that day eight years ago changed the entire course of his life. He lost friends. He lost fellow Marines. He lost part of himself over there, and while I wish I could take it all away for him, I know he wouldn't change a thing. I know he looks at the personal sacrifices he made as nothing compared to the service he could do for his country, and I am so proud of him.
It's just another way I see that 9/11, that day 8 years ago, changed everyone. Not just those who lost family members in the initial crashes, but those whose lives changed in the years following, those who sacrificed their families and loved ones to fighting for our country. What a huge sacrifice all of those people made, and at what cost. 9/11 has had such far reaching impact on almost everyone...part of me still can't believe it ever really happened, that anyone could plan that, put it into action. But it did happen, and I think we need to remember, to hang on to the ways we were changed because of that day.
What about you? Where were you nine years ago today, and how has it affected your life or the lives of your loved ones today?