I will never forget September 11 for many reasons, the first of which is it's my sister's birthday. The second is because it is simply September 11.
It does sound so incredibly cliche but that day began as any other. It was a glorious September in New Jersey day. Clear, blue sky, low humidity and a gentle breeze was blowing. It was perfect and ordinary mixed together.
Because it was my sister's birthday and we had no idea of the events which were to unfold, we had plans to go out for dinner. I was training for the NYC Marathon at the time and I wanted to go for a run. There wouldn't be time when Kevin came home from work so I headed to the gym with John, who was 4 at the time and Jeremy, who was 1 1/2. I ran a few miles and then gathered up the boys and headed home. I had the radio on a local station out of Manhattan and I heard them talking about someone flying a plane into the World Trade Tower. This radio station is known for pranks and jokes and I thought they were kidding.
As I was unlocking the door, I heard the phone ringing from inside the house. I ran to answer it and it was Kevin. He asked me if I knew what was going on and I told him, No. He then told me that our country was being attacked and I should not leave the house. He told me to lock the doors and close the blinds.
I felt very afraid.
I turned on the television just in time to see Tower 2 fall to the ground. I fell on the couch and began to cry.
One thought entered my head.
Jon. Oh my God, Jon!
He works in Manhattan. I grabbed the phone and began frantically calling his cell phone. I kept on getting the "all circuits are busy" message and I began to cry harder. I finally got through to him only to hear him groggily say,"Lane, it's o.k., I overslept. I never made it into the city." I began telling him that I loved him and I kept asking him if he was alright.
After we hung up the phone I began to call all of my family to see if they were safe. As I was dialing the phone, I was willing them to answer. Relief and more tears came when I heard the voices at the end of the line saying everyone in their home was accounted for and safe.
I grabbed my boys and hugged them.
I put Jeremy down for a nap and watched him sleep. I tried to shield John from the television but I couldn't keep my eyes off of it let alone his. He asked me what was going on and I told him the truth.
I don't know.
Kevin called us about 25 times that day just to make sure we were safe. He wasn't able to leave work but I knew he wanted to be with us.
We were renting an apartment in a house while waiting to close on our house and all of our things were in boxes. I went down to the basement, got out the flag and duct taped it to one of the columns on the house. When the girls who lived upstairs from us came home, they knocked on our door and thanked me for putting the flag out.
They put some candles out later that night. I will never forget that sight and the soft glow the candles gave off.
I was unable to shut the television off. I felt that I was somehow betraying all of the people who died. It was like if I shut off the television, I shut off their lives. I couldn't do it.
The stories and the faces haunted me for weeks.
The smoke that billowed over our house was a cruel reminder of what was lost.
In the days that followed I felt like I was walking around in suspended animation.
I was thankful when Rudy Giuliani said, "Go back to your lives. Go shopping. Go to a movie. Laugh. It's O.K. We have to keep on living."
It's been five years and I have kept on living, but I have never, never forgotten. Nor do I want to.
"WE WILL NOT WAVER,
WE WILL NOT TIRE,
WE WILL NOT FALTER,
WE WILL NOT FAIL"
President George W. Bush
Look to the finish, with hope.