I wasn’t running for my life; I was walking to get my lunch. There weren’t people around me in a panic; I was completely alone. There was no smoke…no fumes. The path was well lit, and I exited to a quiet corridor before making my way to the deli. Just as I did last year on this day, I took the long way down to the first floor so that I could, on some very, very small scale, get a glimpse into how those in the two towers felt as they fled the burning buildings. I only had to go down 11 flights. Eleven…in non-life-threatening conditions.
I thought about this as I walked, at a steady pace, down each step. I didn’t have to wonder if I’d make it out the door at the bottom. I didn’t have to worry about being trampled by others or suffocated by horrible smoke. I had the benefit of making the choice to take the stairs instead of knowing it was my only option. What a different experience so many people had 18 years ago.
The time seems to have passed so quickly. I think about what has happened to me personally since then. I have bought and sold a house. I’ve gone through the entire gamut of infertility treatments multiple times. I’ve gotten divorced. I’ve moved. I’ve moved again…and again…and finally again back home. I’ve started and left multiple jobs. I’ve bought a car. I’ve written and published a book. I’ve been parasailing, ziplining, and white water rafting. I’ve become a Zumba instructor. I’ve lost those very dear to me, including my last grandparent, many friends and other family members, as well as all three of my dogs who were like my children. When I look at it in these terms, it seems so incredibly significant.
These types of experiences, some extraordinary and others very trying, are what made me into the person I am today. How different my life would be without the last 18 years or even just one of the items listed above. Putting the events of my life into perspective makes the scope of what happened in 2001 that much more impactful. Multiply what transpired in my life during this time period by 2,977 – one for each life lost. Every person that number represents had countless friends and family members whose lives were also affected. When you think of the impact on that scale, it’s all the more important reason that we must never forget.