This is a 'good' year for me. I'm just getting a little teary eyed, but it's manageable. Some years I'm upset for days before this anniversary.
I was in lower Manhattan on that awful day 13 years ago. Some co-workers and I were already in the office, about 6 blocks away from the World Trade Center.
I remember looking out our 6th floor window to see papers floating all over the place. When there were parades on Broadway, we'd often see the shredded papers floating down our street, but it was too early for a parade, and these were full sheets of paper, like someone had dumped a box of papers out of their windows. I didn't understand what was happening.
I remember hearing sirens and seeing garbage trucks speeding down the street and couldn't understand why garbage trucks had sirens going.
Then the calls started coming in. Loved ones calling us to tell us that a small plane had hit one of the towers. While I was on the phone with DH the 2nd plane hit.
More coworkers started drifting in. These people either came up through the WTC's subways or came over on the ferries from New Jersey. They were covered with dust and walking almost like zombies. People from another of our buildings, much closer started showing up in our office. My Manager was on the ferry and saw people falling from the Tower.
My company (a major financial firm) had emergency plans in place and implemented them quickly. We were told to (as they say now) shelter in place until we were told differently. Some of us went to the Duane Reade (pharmacy) downstairs and bought bottled water. I was told it was my idea, but I don't remember suggesting it.
I think I remember hearing the 1st building collapse. A few minutes later a horrible dark "cloud" came rolling down water street. If you've ever seen the movie "Dante's Peak", think about the scene where they are driving as quickly as they can away from the volcanic cloud and you'lll have a good idea of what the cloud I was looking at was like. After the 2nd building went down, the cloud was white.
We stayed in place until those clouds rolled past. Then we were told to leave. There were 4 of us that stayed together as we walked. We had our water. We took only what we needed and couldn't 'afford' to leave behind. We walked up to and across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's hard to describe what it was like approaching the bridge. No cars. Essentially t he only noise were the people walking. There was very little talking. Turning to look at where the towers had once stood to see only column of black smoke was heart rending.
One scary part was when we got about 1/2 way across the bridge we saw a plane. THERE WEREN"T SUPPOSED TO BE ANY PLANES FLYING. Until one of the people in my group saw that it was a US military plane (if I'm remembering correctly) I was terrified. What if it was going to attack? I knew that I'd be okay if I landed in the water.. .and the bridge didn't collapse on me... but what about the coworker who was handicapped? What would happen to her?
We finally made it across to Brooklyn. National Guard had already been mobilized and were out there helping those who needed it and directing the rest of us to places we could get water and first aid.
My company was wonderful. They opened their location closest to the bridge to those of us coming out of Manhattan. They provided food and shelter to those of us who had no way of getting home since the subways and LIRR weren't running. Finally transportation started up again and our little band of 4 continued our journey. We dropped to of our party and the subway and the other person and I continued on to the railroad. Because of the crowds, people were lined up outside of the station, single file. There was silence on the line. There was no panicked pushing or shoving. We all waited our turn to get on any train that was heading east. I was very lucky in so many ways that day, including the fact that the train I got on was for my line!
When I got home all I did was sit in my room. I couldn't watch the news coverage. I couldn't eat (first time EVER I lost my appetite instead of turning to food for comfort!). DD got home and gave me a huge hug. DS got home and wondered why I was so upset since I was "on the other side of Manhattan".
My company gave us a week off with pay and then allowed us to work from home for another week. After that they provided alternate office space for another week. The stench in the subways lasted for months. Knowing what we were smelling made those commutes horrendous. Slowly but surely things began to feel normal again. It was good to be with my coworkers again. It was good to know that no one in my company was lost that horrible day. Sadly, people I knew did lose loved ones.
Today is a day to remember the tragedy. It's a day to remember those we have lost. It is also a day to remember our loved ones who are still with us, by the grace of G-d or the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in (if you do).