I have been battling with myself all day about writing this post. Why? Because nineteen years ago I was lucky. Nineteen years ago I made a bold move that has allowed me to be here today. So let me share a bit why.
2001 was a year that I will never forget. First with the loss of our daughter sent me spinning. Then exactly to the day three months later I lost my dad. I lived on a tunnel and I was in the middle of it and did not know where I was. Neither coming nor going. A dear friend invited me to spend a week with her in Boston. She and I have been friends since the ’80s and I accepted with pleasure. Love her, love Boston, a perfect week was lining up for me. And so we did, dinners, lunches, shopping, and a show. Even though I had a very early morning flight on the 11th, the night before we went to see the opening of the play Mamma Mia and had a fantastic evening out and about town.
When I was making my reservation, I remember as if it was yesterday, I had two choices: 1. go home via Los Angeles for $82 and have a layover for 4 hours. Or 2. go home via Denver for $102 and be home 2 hours early. The decision was an easy one as I do not have the patience to wait 4 hours in an airport, therefore I took option 2.
Early morning on 9/11, my friend drops me off at Logan airport. Here I am standing in line to get my ticket, as I remember looking at the person at the counter in front of me and wondering why he was wearing a heavy coat and sunglasses and had no luggage nor a hand carry on. Mind you the weather was beautiful and did not require a winter coat.
Something else that has always bothered me from that morning, was the relaxed and absolute nonexistence of the TSA security personals at their stations. This girl stands out in my mind as she was playing with her sunglasses and not doing her job. Do you ever have the feeling that you’re going through things in slow-motion? That was how I felt going through security. And did I mention I had my cell phone on me and my cd player in my carry on and no one questioned me when the machine went beep, or no one opened my bag? I always felt so strange about that. Always.
I am your non-talkative passenger. Maybe because we used to travel a lot, but if you want to have a conversation with your seatmate, you are looking at the wrong person. Although I typically am very sociable, I am not on a plane. A small group of passengers was sitting at the gate, maybe 30 or so. The gate was still close therefore I decided to go grab a cup of tea. As I am standing on line I overheard the conversation of four passengers behind me. Somehow we started chatting. They were all working for the government and were flying to Los Angeles to accompany some military equipment. They were looking forward to spending a couple of days on the West coast.
We laughed as their credit card was not paid and silly other stuff that you share with strangers. We said our goodbyes and I wished them a safe flight to Los Angeles. As I approach my gate no one was in sight. Panic strikes. The United counter personal informed me that they called me and as I was a no show they moved me to the LA flight. That flight was leaving within the hour. The same flight that I did not want to take.
As I stood there I saw the door still open and somehow I decided to run. I ran down the tarmac. Ran as fast as my legs took me and as the door was closing I sneaked in the plane. Made it! I am safe in my seat going to Denver.
During the whole flight, the flight attendants kept pacing back and forth and they were super hyper. Too early in the morning I thought.
When I landed in Denver I remembered that my dog needed to go to the groomer. I called my husband and the phone lines were busy. Really at 6 am? Luckily we have another line and try it and it was free. The only words I kept hearing was ” You are alive! You are alive!” I was a bit annoyed by it and responded: “but of course, I am!” He proceeded to tell me what happened and in a very surreal moment as I am standing at the doorway of this bar the second plane went into the tower. At that moment all of our hearts died.
Would I have not taken that bold move that early morning, I would not be here today. There is not one day that I do not think of all the people who died. All the rescue teams, firefighters, policemen, and anyone that lent a hand. They are in my mind every time I see a plane. Every time we board a plane. My heart heavy knowing that somewhere a family is in deep pain because of the events that took place that day.
I am always questioning myself about the strange person in front of me at the gate, was he one of the highjackers? Did they know about the security screening that was so loose? Questions that will never be answered and that will never bring anyone back.
In 2014 I went to New York and visited the 9/ 11 Memorial and Museum where the two towers were once standing. I cannot express the feeling and emotions that went through me or anyone else visiting the Memorial.
I do wish we never will have to feel and see that kind of pain ever again in our lifetime and those of all our future generations.
Mural inside 9/11 Memorial
One of the first firefighters responders to the Towers
Original metal support beam
What is left of the escalator