It was the most beautiful sunny day with the brightest blue sky you can imagine. I was driving to work in suburban Philadelphia, listening to Imus in the Morning on the radio. I think he had a guest on that morning—a guest who was in New York. When they first mentioned a plane flying into the World Trade Center, even they were confused.
From that point, I remember bits and pieces of the day. The second plane, the buildings falling, the inaccessibility of internet news sites because they couldn’t handle the traffic, people in the office huddled around the snowy screen of a 5″ black and white TV. But I didn’t feel the horror of it the same way you probably did. I felt numb. I felt numb because I was in the midst of being diagnosed with breast cancer, and the very next day it was confirmed by a mammogram.
For me, the week was a blur. I purposely avoided the news because I just couldn’t deal with the the tragedy in addition to what was going on in my personal life. And now, five years later, it feels like the attacks and the days that followed are a part of our national culture that I don’t really share. I feel the sorrow for those who were lost, and the admiration for those who served despite the danger to themselves. But somehow, I think it’s different than it would be if I had been more engaged that week.
My memories of September 11, 2001, will always be intertwined with my diagnosis. Each year when the anniversary approaches, I mourn the people and our way of life that were lost that day. But I also give thanks that I’m still here to remember.