On September 10, 2001, I fell asleep with the television on. Nothing new. I sleep alone and the noise in the house helps me feel not so alone.
Constrained strife slowly woke me up. Opening one eye, I wondered what movie I was watching. I know just about every disaster movie and this wasn't a scene I remember. So I rolled over to pinpoint what movie I was watching. And then the commentator came on...I think it was Katie Couric...and fitfully stated in that newscaster fashion, that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.
And I sat up in bed to watch a movie that had never been made.
I got out my bed to watch mayhem. And helicopters. And people waving white believing, perhaps, that an impossible rescue would be mounted. And people falling. And fire. And people I knew for a fact were dying in front of my eyes. On the living room television because I have to have the noise in the house to help me feel not so alone.
I could not leave the television for weeks. I watched the skies for weeks. I cried for weeks. I could not sleep for weeks. The people, I sobbed to my mommy late one night. All those people, Mommy.
All those people. But what got me, what still gets me, is that I could have been any one of those people hanging out of windows waving futile flags, surrendering my life, had a different target been chosen.
Today, as I listen to the names of those who died that day read, I know these surnames. I've known people with these surnames. They haven't gotten to the Rs yet, but I'm sure the FDNY lost some Ryans that day. My high school friend, Peach Ryan, is a flight attendant. Grounded on that day but if the fates would have had it, she could have been one of those who died.
So the people. All those people. People I could have known. People who could have been me.