On September 11, 2001 my wife and I had just moved to New Mexico to run a lodge at the pleading of my in-laws who had retired there. Now, when people her of New Mexico the images of dry desert, cactus, and tumbleweeds usually come to mind but not so where we lived. The lodge (and the home we lived in) was 8,400 feet up on a mountain full of dense, green forest, wild coyotes and an occasional brown bear searching for trout in the creek right behind our house. My wife was 7 months pregnant and while we were eagerly awaiting the birth of our daughter we toiled hard and long in that lodge. My wife was always better with the customers and between that and the pregnancy she remained in the office/store for most of that time while went about scrubbing toilets and making beds. As a side note, I stunk at making beds so after our daughter was born my wife felt the need to intervene in that regard.
That time was not easy for us. We had a baby on the way, Kristen’s dad had died just a few months before and our business was upside down. We were barely there for a few months when we had decided that New Mexico was not for us and were already planning our “escape” when we got the call. Kristen’s mom called the store and said that one of the towers had been hit. Immediately my heart sank. I was born in New York. I still had family there. That was my home although for a short time before my mom moved us away. I remember the time my dad took us down there to see the towers. I stood at the base of one of the towers and looked straight up the side. And with the smell of hot dog vendors and the sounds of cabs going by I simply uttered, “Wow.”
That was the memory that rushed into my mind like freight train.
I rushed to the house and turned on the TV and my wife and I watched in disbelief. As the smoke rose into the morning sky I could feel that childhood memory being stolen from me by cowards. Then in horror we watched the south tower collapse. Not to diminish the horror of the south tower going down but I do remember feeling a sense of relief that the north tower was still standing almost like a lone survivor making it shore after a shipwreck. But soon after, the north tower collapsed. “All those people,” I said out loud. I had hoped that by some miracle they had all been evacuated but not so. When the pentagon was hit I prayed, “God, please let it stop.” Then the heroic passengers of flight 93 defeated the plans of those same cowards.
We couldn’t pull ourselves away from the television on that day even though we were so far away.
It’s now been 10 years later since that heinous act was committed and my prayer is not for us but for the families that have suffered the brunt of that day. For the children who lost their mom or dad. For the mom or dad who lost a son or daughter. Say a prayer for them today….please. And give your family an extra hug today because they’re still with you. Love them more today than you did yesterday and focus on them this weekend.
As always, comments are welcome. I’d love to hear your story about where you were.
On a side note (totally unrelated), I want to say thanks to the friends that offered a “get well” wish to me. This weekend I went through a bad bout with a kidney stone and I’ve been home resting up from that.
Thank you so much.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of prose fiction and graphic novels.