As I write this, I place my fingers in the proper typing position, making sure to not look at the keys, just as I was doing 12 years ago in Mrs. Zisa's typing class. I was 13, in second period, and counting down the hours until lunch and recess. Mrs. Avia burst through the door telling my teacher to turn on the news because something happened in NYC. We were very confused, the bell rang, and we made our way to third period, Mr. Maxwell's singing class. Instead of our normal silliness like vying for the MIDI position at his desk where we could shake up his Diet Coke cans, we all sat in the risers with our young eyes glued to the television screen. We saw the second plane crash into the WTC on live TV. The shadows grew a little darker in that room in that moment. The bell rang, we were forced to fourth period. Here, the first tower collapsed. At this point calls and speaker announcements were made to all teachers that cable was not to be on in any classrooms for the rest of the day. I always thought it wasn't handled right. I wanted to know what was happening, myself along with so many classmates had parents in NYC that morning.
Once recess came, I saw cars of moms coming to the school to pick their children up, some just scared, some having not heard from their loved ones. This was before middle-schoolers had cell phones, and I remember sitting on the blacktop wanting to call my mom from the front office to make sure everyone in our family was okay. But I was too afraid of bad news and rejected the idea. No one was able to focus for the rest of the day as much as the teachers tried to get our minds off of the attack.
The bus ride home was nerve wrecking. I hopped off the yellow school bus at the entrance of Joshua Lane and walked hesitantly up to my house. My mom was sitting in the family room watching the news. She informed me that she had spoken to my dad and he was fine and trying to get home, but that others from his company were in the towers. They didn't make it, but they tried, calling to the office, not knowing what happened below them since they were on the floors above the crash. She was trying to call around and make sure all of our other family was okay...
I left the house. I stood on my driveway as this tiny eighth grader amongst the bluest sky I had ever seen. I remember looking up and feeling so many things, but just wanted my family all together at that point, so I took the walk to Lincoln School to meet my siblings, who I knew had no clue about what had happened. As we walked home from "the path" I explained to them what happened and tried to convey the severity of it and how we were waiting to hear that all of our family was okay and who did all of this. We were all so scared.
My family was okay. But so many families around me weren't so lucky.
I ended up putting on an enormously successful (and patriotic) bake sale in the front of my street for the victim's families. Myself, and the team of friends I recruited to help, made it into newspapers, but more importantly we were able to help out as much as we could for being 13 years old. I'll never forget all of the people stopping to talk, honking, taking pictures, and pulling over to donate money even without purchasing anything. Some of my teachers even showed up because I had talked about it at school the week prior which I thought was so cool.
All of the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters of people within arm's reach and beyond, may the lost but not forgotten REST IN PEACE...
..and may all of us rekindle the flame of love and kindness that radiated from us in the days and months after September 11, 2001.