I was working at the Crisis Intervention Center at the hospital. Another worker was with me in the office, and another worker was down in the ER with a patient.
It was early and we were catching up on the paperwork from the day before. We had a tv in the office, but hadn’t turned it on. Then the husband of the worker in the ER called to say we should turn on the tv, because a plane had gone into one of the towers of the World Trade Center and it was reported that there was more going on, that this had not been an accident.
We turned the tv on and watched for a few minutes, transfixed. We saw the second plane go into the other tower. Surreal was not a word I ever really understood until that moment. We watched for a few minutes, silent. Then I said to the other worker: This is Real. It felt like something you would see in a very well done movie, so real….because it was real.
Shortly we heard that there were more planes, hijacked, real planes with real people on, not knowing what else was about to happen.
In a while another patient came into the ER and I needed to go down to interview that person. As I walked thru the hospital doing what I was supposed to be doing, it was like a dream, not sure whether what I remembered seeing had really happened, or whether I was really dreaming. But yet I knew I was wide awake, walking around while people were dying and nobody knew what more was to come. I know of no other time when I felt as confused as I did then.
I noticed the psychology of people as I walked thru the building. Some were silent, heads down and saying nothing, walking as tho there was no other person near them. Others were quick to speak: speak about anything, other than the obvious. Comments about each others’ clothes, or how many people were in the ER, or how slow the elevator was today. Some needed to make contact, even with strangers, and others were deep in their own thoughts. Maybe some that were silent knew that they had somebody who was being affected by what was happening. No one mentioned what was happening, or being afraid, yet there was a tone of fear in the building that was almost tangible. It was as tho it wasn’t true if we didn’t say it. But it was true.
Little did we know at that time what all was yet to happen. We’ve come a long way since that day, yet that feeling of fear will never go away, remembering those hours. Or the feeling of people, here, walking thru a hospital, wondering……………We can only hope that we’ve come far enough that a horror like this can never happen on our shores again.
A friend of mine took this picture from the Statue of Liberty a few months before 9/11/01, and she has given me permission to show it, as it was.