I overslept on this fateful morning. What a trivial thing to start this catastrophic day. Because of the terrorist attack, there was a brief power outage in my dorm room, and my alarm did not go off as planned. Instead it went off an hour later to a preset blaring noise that came with the manufacturer’s setting, and not the radio station that I had chosen the night before. That was odd. I got out of bed, and walked over to my window.
I looked out my window as I always did, and looked for the twin towers. From my 23rd floor bedroom window, it was guaranteed a clear and sunny day if I could see all the way down from the Bronx to the twin towers. Instead I saw black smoke. I rubbed my eyes and thought perhaps I had left my contact lenses on the night before. Black smoke kept bellowing up from the towers. In disbelief, I turned on the television, hoping to get an explanation for what I was seeing. The smoking twin towers were glaring back at me from the screen, just as the view from my window. Hijacked planes. Our country was under attack.
The ensuing hours were spent trying to locate my family members especially my mother, who had planned on taking an out-of-town relative there that morning. I had just celebrated a milestone birthday at the famed Windows on the World. Located on the top floor of the North Tower, The Window offered us the magnificent jewel that was the New York night self. I thought they’d enjoy a nice breakfast there. All the phone lines were busy. It was impossible to actually talk to anybody. Back then, my mother didn’t even own a cell phone. All my classes were cancelled until further notice. Everyone was on high alert. My fingers shook trying to dial the phone for the nth time. It wasn’t until many heart wrenching hours that I was finally able to get through and speak with all of my family members in various boroughs of New York that day. All of them were safe. Mom was stuck in the subway in Queens, and never made it to the North Tower that morning. For many, that tremendous sense of relief where you cry out loud and did not care who could hear you never came that day. For many New Yorkers, the twin void stayed.
Until this day, I can not bring myself to visit Ground Zero. I have treated many patients while working as a medical intern at a hospital on the lower east side. We never traded stories. We never talked about that day. It was a wound so deep to some that you just did not want to open up the scab. We held a memorial in our school where professors and lost loved ones were remembered. Yes, we will always remember this day.