I was just starting my freshman year of college on September 11. My memories of that day slide in and out of focus, with random bits imprinted more clearly: my roommate waking me up to tell me about a plane crash (we were on the west coast); talking with my TA during 8am chemistry lab; and then nothing until getting back to my dorm after class was done, and following the stream of students into the TV room, and seeing the news. Mostly what I remember now, these almost 12 years later, is how long it took the full scope of what had happened to sink in. How it had to be an accident, and then how much I was in denial about how much structural damage the attack could have caused, like the planes were as inconsequential as a bird bouncing against a glass window. And then finally seeing the collapsed towers, and the horror sinking in.
I thought about that today, here in my adopted city. I was a few miles before the end, waiting to cheer a friend on, when I vaguely noticed some police mobilization: motorcycle cops leaving, and then sirens. I half thought, oh, the race is winding down, they’re needed elsewhere, and then I saw my friend run by, and then I went home and saw a message from my husband about the explosion. And even then, my first thought was it was an accident, or if it wasn’t an accident, maybe a couple people got hurt. And then I started to watch the TV coverage, and the injury count started to increase, and one of the dead is an 8-year-old boy.
We were lucky: we are safe, our friends all seem to be safe, my facebook feed is filled with friends and classmates who are safe and long-distance friends checking in. I keep clicking the Boston.com live feed, and reading the hospital reports, and what I really want is to hear good news: they overestimated the number of injuries, or something like that, even though I know that’s not what I’m going to see. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They and their families will be in our prayers.