Have you ever played 6 Degrees of Separation? It’s a game of sorts. Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone can be connected to any other person through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. It sounds bizarre and crazy, but if Facebook has taught me nothing else, it has taught me how small our world really is. For most people September 11th is a day to remember the ones who lost their lives in a senseless act of violence. They watched, glued to their televisions, as the horror story unfolded before their eyes. A normal day turned upside down. They watched strangers and heard stories of people they didn’t know personally.
But for others, it was different.
The day that will be forever etched into our minds
One of the planes flew out of Logan International Airport. About 24 miles from where I was living at the time. Even still. What are the chances that I would know someone touched by that horrific event?
That’s what I thought anyway as that day unfolded. Sitting at my desk as an Administrative Assistant, listening to the horror transpiring as my colleagues were watching it unfold in the conference room. I couldn’t move. Frozen. Not sure of what was happening, but not certain I wanted to know either.
No work would be done that day.
It was a joke. It wasn’t real. How could something like that happen? What in the world?
But it was happening. It was real.
Then it hit a little closer to home.
I can’t remember the exact time frame, but after everyone had dispersed, trying to make sense of a senseless act, everyone in the company was called to the Atrium. We didn’t all fit on the lower level, so we all stayed on our floors but went to the open area in the middle.
The voice of Ted English boomed but wavered, it’s origin unknown to me. He spoke of the horrific events of the day. Explained that more had happened, but what he said next hit me like a ton of bricks out of nowhere.
He said they had confirmed there were colleagues on the plane.
Even still, this company was big. I hadn’t worked there long. I wouldn’t know any of their names.
September 11th: The Day That Changed My Life
You see, in May of 2001, I moved to Framingham to take a job in a daycare. Unbeknownst to me, this daycare was part of the corporate headquarters of TJX. I was an assistant teacher in the infant and toddler room. I got to know these babies and their parents on a personal level. I got to witness the love that these parents had for their children.
One mom in particular beamed when she came in the room to pick up her daughter. It was precious. It didn’t matter what had happened that day, seeing her daughter made everything better. This little girl was adored by both her mama and her older brother. I knew she was a Buyer, but I didn’t know which department.
I felt uncomfortable as Mr. English continued on with his speech. I wanted to run. I didn’t belong there. I was new. I was leaving at the end of the month. I didn’t know anyone.
Then he started naming these dear women. Christine Barbuto, Neilie Casey, Tara Creamer, Linda George, Lisa Fenn Gordenstein, Robin Kaplan, Susan MacKay.
Tears followed by sobs escaped from my body. Tara Creamer. I knew her. I had read books with her sweet baby. We had conversation when she came to pick her up after work. Just the week before we saw each other in the break area and had talked about life and how big her babies were getting.
And now she was gone.
I rushed back to my desk to somehow pull myself together. I called my now husband on the phone and sobbed into the ear piece. She was gone. The plane. On her way to LA. Her babies. Gone.
I rushed down to the childcare center, just wanting to hold that sweet baby. To shield her from the nightmare. I spoke to the Assistant Director and we cried. So much confusion and pain.
It Isn’t Just a Day
For many that was just a day.
They woke up on the 12th, and while the nightmare was still fresh, they were able to go about the rest of their day.
For those who lost loved ones, 9/11 isn’t just a day. It’s their life. They will truly never forget that day because it haunts them everyday. It’s the day that changed the course of their life. They can’t forget it even if they want to.
For the babies who lost their Moms that day, they don’t remember the day. They’ve heard stories. By now they have probably seen pictures. Perhaps even visited the memorial and run their fingers across the name of their Mother. But that doesn’t bring her back.
So today as we remember those who lost their lives, whether as a by-stander or first responder, let’s also remember their families who live this day everyday.
We will never forget.
I will never forget.