Five years have passed.
No - that isn't possible.
How could five years go by in the blink of an eye? It seems as though it was only yesterday that those horrible events took place in New York, in Washington, DC, and in Pennsylvania. I still remember EXACTLY what I was doing five years ago on this day.
I came downstairs with my daughter - who was only a baby at the time - to make her breakfast. There was a talk show on - Ananda Lewis, if anyone cares to know - and though I can't recall the topic, I knew I wanted to watch it. So, on went the TV.
The news was on and I was aggravated. How could a pilot be so clueless as to HIT the World Trade Center? Everyone in the world knows it's there - and it's 110 stories tall. How on earth could you NOT see it?
I was saying this to an eight month old infant, who simply smiled as if to say, 'I hear ya, Mom.'.
Mind you, no one knew yet.
We were about to learn.
I can still remember the horror, the revulsion, the disbelief at seeing that second plane hit. To this day I can recall how my stomach kinked and how I wanted to throw up.
When the first tower fell, I could only stare. That feeling of wanting to throw up was even more prevalent. All I could think was - 'All of those people IN those buildings...' How could any of them have gotten out? It'd be a miracle.
By then, I knew all of my family members were present and accounted for and I thank God for that. And all I wanted to do was throw my arms around my husband and hug him. I kept thinking about how many families would have an empty chair at their dinner table that night and I was never so grateful as I was the moment my husband walked through the door at the end of the day.
From our home, I could see the smoke, the haze in the distance. You could smell the odor of burning whatever that was thick in the air. But the oddest thing to me?
We live between Newark, Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Philadelphia airports. There are ALWAYS planes overhead. Our walls don't shake or anything, but you can look up at any given moment and see two or three planes - way high up - crossing over.
Not that night five years ago.
That night - when we both desperately needed a break from the news - DH and I went out onto the deck, we sat there, just looking up at the peaceful night sky that so belied what had happened earlier that day. I've never heard such thick silence before. Then, the silence was shattered by the scream of the military jets that were doing hourly fly-overs. Then silence would reign once more. It was peaceful, but eerie, and it's something I'd never seen before, or experienced since.
Five years have gone by since I cried for people I'd never met, for families I didn't know.
As I watched the ceremony at Ground Zero, I felt that same pain for those families with that empty chair.
We can never forget what happened that day. Not the sacrifices, not the loss, not the devastation.
We can never forget.