Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11: Even the reporters sobbed

My sister was the first person to tell me about the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

We were roommates at the time, both in college, so rolling out of bed in the mid-morning was habitual. My sister had gotten up earlier than me and snagged the shower before I could even rub the eye boogers away. I was barely up and about when Bennet started screaming at me to come in the bathroom and listen to what she just heard on the radio. I burst in, and we listened, a backdrop of water spraying from the showerhead and the radio host, Jimmy Chunga, a virtual comedian of radio tried to explain what happened, but kept pausing. These long pregnant pauses. Pausing to catch his breath. Pausing out of shock. Stumbling over his words and grasping for coherency, yet all the while the hesitations in his breath and speech marked a rise in the body count.

Unable to piece together the events with Chunga's choppy description, I fled from the bathroom and switched on the TV in the next room, then stared in horror at the scene.

Two towers in New York City. One smoking like a thick match.
The other sturdy, untouched.

The camera capturing the visage shook like a scene from the Blair Witch Project. Suddenly, my sister was beside me, bathrobed and dripping wet, her face a stone carving of dismay as victims flung themselves from windows and fell like rag dolls to an off-camera destination.

Whatever words we might have said at the time didn't capture the fear and anguish we felt for those poor people. Anything we might've spoken was hardly an epitaph for that moment. 

I knew what I was seeing, but I didn't understand it. I tried to wrap my mind around the tragedy, helplessly watching the the fire devour the building. We both watched powerless, thousands of miles away, wondering if it could get any worse in NY.

Then, a second plane flew out of the corner of the screen, tilting slightly to the left, and plunged into the other tower, striking the match with a plume of flames and ash.

Even the reporters sobbed.

And yes, we decided, it could get worse.
And it did.

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