I'm just home from work and I took a stroll down the hill to pay my respects to the Pentagon and remember all those that died that day, in Arlington, New York and Pennsylvania.
In my world, on 9-11, the conversations always turns to "where were you on that day". I imagine it does in other cities and countries around the world.
I'll tell you my story. It was not my personal tragedy but it had a profound impact on our country and our vision of ourselves as invincible. It lodged a ball of fear in my heart I am slowly breaking through.
Tony and I had just closed on this house on September 10th. It was a lengthy, messy closing, with his name misspelled on every page.
After hours of initializing every mistake and sitting through all the other trauma that makes home buying so stressful, we stumbled out of the lawyers office about 9:00pm.
Starving and already sick to death of the house we decided to skip our own home inspection in favor of food and sleep.
The next morning was a perfect blue skies, sunny day. We agreed to go check out the new house after work. I was watching the Today Show at home when the first tower was hit. It was Lauer And Courig hosting, they didn't know what was happening. Those were the days of innocence. I left for work, none the wiser.
I was at the flower shop, in the basement, when our driver came running in and told us to turn on the TV.
We did, and time seemed to stop. The second tower had just been hit. I called the shop owners who were vacationing on Nantucket and urged them to find a TV. By the time the call was over, Flight 77 had hit the Pentagon.
I called Nantucket again and told them we were going to close the shop. but yet we stayed together for several more hours, underground in what we call the hell hole. We felt safe there, together.
When I walked out of the shop, it was eerily quiet. No cars, so planes overhead, no cell phone ringing, our world had shut down. It was still a beautiful day but now the very air seemed filled with fear. What next, everyone wondered.
There was a steady parade of silent suit clad people walking down Lee Highway in Arlington, trying to get home. The carried the jackets, briefcases and silent phones. It was like a long, funeral procession.
Highways were closed. bridges were closed, Starbucks was closed.
I went home with several friends from the shop, we sat outside at the table, everyone making frantic phone calls that went nowhere.
I felt selfish wondering to myself if our house was even standing. It turned out to have been in the flight path but the only thing that was down was an old diseased maple tree in the back yard. All its branches fell off and buried themselves in the ground.
When our street was finally opened to traffic, several days later, we walked around the tree in silence, wondering about all the holes in the ground around it and where they could have come from.
For weeks after, as we worked on the house, there was a steady stream of military Humvees driving past and people from every state, parking on our street, to walk to the hill that now holds the Air Force Memorial, carrying armfuls of flowers and photos to honor the dead.
In 2002, I planted white cottage yarrow to commemorate that day. It's still blooming.
Every year we do a grave blanket for the widow of the Captain on Flight 77, who died along with all his passengers when the crashed into the Pentagon. I spoke to her on Tuesday.
She told me it never gets easier. I told her we will never forget.