I guess everyone has those moments where they ask 'where were you?' Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated? Where
were you when the Challenger exploded? Where were you when....etc.
And everyone today is asking each other 'Where were you when you found out about 9/11?" "What were you doing?" So here's
I'd graduated from nursing school the June before, and was working right where I work now, having switched over to the night shift
a few weeks before. So I worked the previous night, Monday.
I got home around 7:45, my normal time. Took a shower. Put my scrubs in the wash. Made breakfast (which like always were
left overs from the previous nights dinner). And in my pajamas settled down in front of the TV to wind down from the previous
shift. I don't remember anything extraordinary happening the previous night.
I was about to go to bed, had done the whole ritual I usually do. Shower, eat, moisturize, the normal things that get me ready for bed.
It was about quarter of nine, when my program was interrupted with 'breaking news' of the first plane hitting the north tower.
Everyone was thinking it might have been an accident, a navigational error, anything but what it ended up to be. Like everyone else in
the nation, I watched in horror as fifteen minutes later I watched, live, the second plane ram into the South Tower. What was it?
Was it really a plane? Was it an explosion from the other tower? Could two planes hit the World Trade Center as an accident?
A former chief from the National Transportation Board was on CNN, saying that absolutely not could it have been an accident.
No flight plan takes you within closer than a mile of the towers. It was a perfectly clear, bright morning. Visibility was excellent,
there was no need for a pilot to depend on his navigation controls when he could just look out the window.
President Bush came on to make remarks, "two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack."
Chilling words, and I started to cry. I was scared, especially as I remembered something I had seen that was a bit off when I went
out to my car earlier. I saw a plane turn around in a full U Turn. And I knew then, after CNN told me one of the planes made
it as far as Albany (where I live) before turning around, that I saw one of the planes before it hit the tower.
Now this whole horror was being labeled terror. An intentional attack to kill people. It was completely irrational, but I locked
my doors and windows. I don't know what I was keeping out, but I was keeping out something I was sure. Sleep forgotten, I sat
down in front of the TV, horrified and mesmerized.
Then my nurse manager called. Wanted to know if I had to come in, could I? We were going to take overflow, since I work at a
trauma center. Airlifts from Westchester Burn Center and the hospitals in NYC to make room down there for the casualties.
Numb, I agreed. And that was the last I heard on that matter.
Then the anchor on CNN started talking about emergency responders. The fire department, police department and Port Authority
were responding en masse. I picked up the phone and called my cousin's apartment. No answer. I called his cell phone, the circuits
were busy. I tried my aunt and uncle, the lines were busy. I knew better than to call his station house. So I didn't. But I knew,
somehow I just knew that he was there, with his fellow emergency workers. He would be no where else. Even if he wasn't on duty,
he would have gone.
Then, at 9:59, I remember the time. I watched the South Tower collapse. I was standing, pacing as I tried to call people.
Watching that tower collapse, I collapsed onto the floor. It collasped like a slinky. You know, you stretch a slinky out and then let
go of the top, and it just shrinks down, straight down. That's what it looked like. I prayed, oh how I prayed that Bobby wasn't in
there. That he was outside safe.
I kept trying to get ahold of people down in the City, and I couldn't get ahold of anyone. I was crying, but at 10:28 when the
North Tower collapsed, I started screaming. Because I knew. You know how sometimes you just feel something you can't explain?
I felt that. I knew my cousin wasn't coming home. That he was in that rubble somewhere.
The images blurred from there. The cloud of smoke and debris that had everyone running. The fires, the screams on TV, the
carrying of Father Mike like a modern Pieta.
I don't remember, but I called into work that night. I got in my car and drove down to the City. They weren't letting anyone in, so
I backtracked through New Jersey, making it as far as Brooklyn in a roundabout way. Then on foot I headed toward Manhatten.
All in all, a normal hour and a half drive took six hours. Along the way I learned the Pentagon had been attacked. That a plane
had crashed in Pennsylvania. It just kept getting worse, and I was paranoid. On an open highway, on bridges.
But I made it to his firehouse, where only the dispatcher was there. He saw me and gave me a hug. Then it was official, Bobby was
I don't know why he did it, I've never asked, but he got me credentials to go down to Ground Zero as a nurse. To the tents they were
setting up to provide relief for the rescue workers. It was still labeled a rescue effort.
I'll never forget the smell. I was given a mask and a water bottle. All I did was bind wounds on the hands, where metal would cut
through gloves of the over zealous workers who couldn't wait for the endless streams of water from endless rows of hoses to cool off the
rubble. Provided water and juice. But the smell. Burning rubber and sulfur and things I don't even want to identify. It was still
smoky and my eyes were stinging.
Mayor Guiliani stopped by for water. Thanked us all for coming. So calm and authorative, even with a lined face, red eyes and
shaking hands. I remember that, his hands shook. I found out later his close friends were in there with my cousin, and yet he was so
strong for the rest of us. We were calm because he was calm.
I searched the face of every worker that came to the tent, or walked by it. The ones that knew me wouldn't meet my eyes, because they
had no news for me. That was a case of no news was bad news.
We were all prepared for casualties that never came. But we were prepared. We were praying for a rush of injured people to come
at us, and they never came. Some of the workers were talking more about recovery than rescue.
Ground Zero looked like a warzone. Debris everywhere, papers blowing, broken office furniture. Ash and smoke and more ash.
Mists from the continuous spray they were spraying into the pit to cool it down. The pit was huge. And deep. All the pictures
you've seen don't do it justice.
And I've never seen NYC so still. It's called the "City that doesn't sleep" for a reason. But it was paralyzed. Everyone was quiet,
so many people at Ground Zero and it was still so quiet. The only planes overhead were fighter jets giving coverage in case of another
attack. So much going on, and so much not going on.
I'm rambling, and not sure how to end this, except I wondered where God was. Where was He?
And then I realized, he was there. There were 3000 people to be sheparded home.
But the man who got us through was Mayor Giuliani.
my story and memorial