It's still hard to turn away from the television.
Eight years later, I'm sitting on my couch watching the same scenes playing over and over and over again. I'm listening to the same voices from the ground screaming in disbelief at the bodies coming toward them from above. I'm witnessing the same firefighters solemnly walking into the South Tower with a uniform expression on their faces, the look of knowing they are going to die.
I watched a home video that was recorded by someone who lived just a few blocks from the twin towers. The one thing I noticed in the moments after the second tower collapsed was how quiet the city had become. Gusts of wind, but no birds. Near silence. A cough here and there. But otherwise, nothing.
It wasn't that quiet where I was.
Eight years ago, I huddled with a group of strangers in the lobby of my hotel where I worked as a sales rep. Our hotel guests looked to us, the staff, for comfort. While at the time I found this odd, I can now go back to that morning and understand that we were the closest thing they had to familiarity. Some of them had been regular guests for years and felt like our hotel was their second home. Others were visiting with us for the first time and needed someone they knew, even if only since checking into their rooms the night before. We all found each other in the lobby and became the family we all so desperately needed. The world stopped turning, in a sense, and we did what we could to keep each other standing, even if our whole bodies were trembling.
I thought long and hard today about whether or not I would post something about 9/11. Earlier I decided that I would not. But my father said something to me tonight that made me reconsider. When I told my father to pay attention to how quiet New York City had become once the second tower had fallen, he replied, "Imagine how quiet the entire nation was at that moment."
So I tried. It's not easy. I still can't do it.