Fifteen years ago today, I had recently moved 1000 miles from Boston, MA to Athens, GA to be with the man I loved.
He was in his senior year of college and working on a paper due that day. I was drinking my coffee and watching The Wayans Brothers before another day of job hunting.
Breaking News cut into the show with a story about a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers in NYC. Then there were reports of another plane crashing into the Pentagon.
I remember feeling confused and wondering if this was important enough to interrupt my boyfriend’s writing.
I watched in shock, staring at the television, certain that what I was seeing was somehow not happening. I was already shaking when I watched live as the second tower was hit.
When I finally called my boyfriend in to watch what was unfolding, I watched him go through the same stages of shock and fear. He also started shaking. We watched live as the towers fell.
The thing I remember most about that day is the thought of how incredibly glad I was to be there with him because there was no one else I would have rather had by my side in that moment.
May all bunnies take a stand for love and against fear, every day anew.
— Bunny Buddhism (@bunnybuddhism) December 14, 2015
To calm our nerves, we pulled out a bottle of bourbon and started doing shots. We simply had no idea how to respond to something like this. We were shocked and terrified, wondering what was coming next, and coping with our anxiety the best way we knew how.
I tried to call a few people but couldn’t get through to anyone. I kept trying and eventually reached my mother. I felt a need to call and tell her I was safe, even though she knew I was far from any of the action. I remember thinking it was a strange impulse until I realized how glad she was that I had called.
I was too scared to go to choir practice that evening. Our country was under attack, and the only things that mattered were knowing my family was safe and being with the man I loved.
Five years later, my boyfriend and I got married. Eight years later, my husband took his own life.
In the two years since, I have been struggling to make sense of my life and trying to figure out how to live on my own, when I never thought I would have to do so again.
Today is one of the harder days.
I know there are many, many people who were affected by the 9/11 attacks on a much deeper level than I. Many people lost family and friends that day. I didn’t. In some ways, it feels like it shouldn’t matter as much to me.
But the day, for me, is still about loss.
Breathing in, I am aware of my bunny grief. Breathing out, I allow room for love to live within me.
— Bunny Buddhism (@bunnybuddhism) August 20, 2015
All I want to do today is talk with my late husband, ask him what he remembers, and tell him how glad I was to be with him that day. I want to tell him how safe he made me feel in such a scary moment. I want to reflect on the horror and consider how the world has changed as a result.
Instead, I sit here alone, respecting and valuing the lives lost that day, and wishing I could have just one more moment with my husband.
Because the fact of the matter is—loss is loss.
Sometimes it comes in dramatic fashion, in huge numbers and ways that affect the entire world. Sometimes it comes quietly and touches only a few people.
It doesn’t matter how it comes—the pain is no less painful.
Today, let us remember all those we have lost. Let us be thankful for those we still have in our lives. And let us never forget that even after loss—especially after loss—love is what remains.