I remember so much about that day. I was working in news and that was the biggest news day of all news days. The only way to get through a day like that is to just put your head down and go - no time to feel, not much time to think. Check your heart and soul at the door and pick it up when the work day is through.
Then, when the day was done, I drove to the gym and sat in my car for a few minutes as the events of the day finally crashed over me like a wave. Drenching me and pulling me under, until I was unable to breathe and dissolved into tears. It was the first moment I could feel the pain of what happened that day. The lives lost. The sheer horror. The pride of watching rescue workers running to the danger when everyone else was running away. Knowing people simply disappeared.
I composed myself, then went inside the gym long enough to see more of the never-ending coverage on the TVs , dissolved into tears again, then I left.
I remember later, talking with a good friend of mine who told me that he was fixated on the stories of people trapped in the towers, or on the plane that would meet it's demise in PA. Those who made their final phone calls - told someone important to them that they loved them, and sent messages to family.
My friend paused, preparing to say something I will never forget... he said, "I can only help but wonder, if I were in that situation, who would I call? Since I don't have a wife or children, I supposed it would be my parents. And knowing that, sort of depresses me."
I knew exactly what he meant, even though I had not thought of it that way until he said so.
Over the coming months, we heard all the tragic stories of wives who lost their husbands, left to raise their families alone. And I know this is terrible to say, but even then (I was 31) I thought, "But at least you were married. At least you knew there was one person in this world who loved you. Enough to marry you. Someone to build a life with, someone wanted a future with you, no matter how long or short that future is. Someone who loves you so much, to whom you are so important... that you're the one they need to talk to in the final moments of life. That means something, and you are so blessed to know love like that whether it was for 10 years or 10 months." But mostly I thought, "I feel that loss every day - and I've never even met the man I'm mourning."
I know it's not polite or compassionate to share these thoughts. I'll be accused of being unkind.
But this is my truth. I know it is devastating to lose a love. I don't deny that. I am sympathetic.
My sister and my dad both left this earth without warning.
I can only look forward to meeting the love of my life one day, and hope that one of us gets to say, "I love you. Goodbye."