During my college years, I worked as a receptionist at Morgan Stanley in New Jersey. Naturally, my job mainly consisted of answering & transferring calls. I had a big television across my desk where the news would flood in all day long.
On September 11, 2001 at 8:14 am, about 14 minutes after sitting at my desk, the world was never the same. I looked up at the t.v. as they showed a plane crashing into the buildings - was it a horrific accident? Did something go wrong with the plane & it accidentally crashed into the building? This must be from a plane malfunction....My co-workers starting filtering around the lobby area where the t.v. was in front of my desk.
My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. I texted my brother, Anthony immediately as he worked in New York at the time. He was not in the city & just happened to be sick that day. I ran to the bathroom & for a few minutes straight cried in relief....eventually returning to my desk.
Because Morgan Stanley had an office in one of the World Trade Center buildings, phones starting ringing and ringing and ringing - I picked up my phone and I can still hear the voices of husbands & wifes, mothers & fathers, daughters & sons asking me to connect them to their loved ones in the building.
When I answered the first call, I think I must have disassociated out of shock. I spoke almost robotic-like saying, "Yes, of course let me see what I can do to connect you...Don't worry, your husband, wife, mother, father, daughter or son is probably trying to leave the building to safety. Don't worry. It's going to be okay."
I tried to connect them to their loved ones. I could not. The phones were down everywhere. The land lines inside the World Trade Center, cell phones - everywhere was a busy signal. You could not connect with anyone throughout the city.
....I have a lot of PTSD from that horrific day. The voices of loved ones trying to connect to their family one last time during a terrorist attack. It makes me think of everywhere else this is happening all over the world today in 2022.
My whole body was shaking with each call that came in....I finally broke down in tears from holding in all my emotions and the horrifying reality of what was actually happening. Everything started to become a blur & sound became muffled. I just remember my boss telling me that we were going to close the office early at some point but that I should just go home.
I can't quite explain the extreme sadness I felt that day and still feel from it all - it's a different kind of sadness that I just can't quite put my finger on...It's like you are close but not close enough to help. You hear the voices asking you for help and you cannot. I know it was out of my hands with the phones being down, but I felt like I had the hearts of these families in my hands. I felt like I was there with them trying to reach a loved one during a nightmare that you cannot wake up from.
Years later, I moved to Malibu, California and every year Pepperdine University would put out flags all across the entire front lawn to remember & honor those that were murdered that day. The flags go on for what seems like forever....I can still picture what it looks like right now. I can picture the families visiting & sitting on the lawn paying their respects & remembering loved ones. I remember passing by on my drive to work along Pacific Coast Highway, trying to focus on the road and then pulling my car over to break down in tears before heading into work that morning and continue my day as "normal" as possible.
I will forever hold all the beautiful souls that became angels that day in my heart forever. To the families & friends who are missing a loved one, I'm holding you in my heart forever as well.
This week, I'll be sharing a post about grief that I'm in the middle of writing, so until then, hug your loved ones, say what you need to say, make time for one another, don't hold grudges and remember that everyday is a gift.
Peace & Love,