Fifteen years ago I was fresh to New York City. A couple of days before I’d seen two of my favorite entertainers, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson perform at Madison Square Garden in what would become a much talked about show. I was excited to be living in New York City. A dream I’d apparently had since I was 7 years old.
On my way to work at the law firm, I was walking across 42nd Street at Fifth Avenue listening to CeCe Winans sing; effectively getting me centered and ready for the day. The firm was on 42nd & Madison. As I approached the corner, just a block away I had no concept for what would happen next. No concept for what I would see. My life would forever change.
As a woman screamed and stopped in the middle of the street, I turned to see what looked like a plane hitting one of the “Twin Towers” and then, a gaping hole. My first thought was, “how could a pilot fly so close to the World Trade Center?” I had no concept for what would happen next.
We know the details so I will spare that recount. But, I never contemplated that I would, with my own two eyes, see two of the tallest buildings in the world implode and collapse. My sense of safety here in America would never be the same.
Aside from the details (that are fresh in my mind), the thing that I try to focus on when remembering that day is the grace I received. I knew a handful of people in the city and was living in Jersey City at the time. Once the buildings fell, I knew I had to get out of that building where I worked and off of the 33rd floor. So, I walked.
I walked in the direction of my brother/best friend Antonious’ office, but I took a weird route. Quite frankly, I was dazed. Just as I turned the corner at Rockefeller Center there he was along with my BIL (Brother-In-Law) Christopher. Nothing, but grace.
As we walked down to the Williamsburg Bridge. The city was silent. People were walking uptown covered in soot and silence. I have never experienced such loud and haunting silence before in my life.
It was like a movie, except it was real. Christopher and I stayed on the couch for days. Weeping. Praying. Clearing out their stash of wine and spirits. Numb.
I could never forget 9/11. It has an indelible place in my psyche. I still grieve for the lives that were lost that day. I still grieve for my former sense of safety.
We are a strong nation. I love America. Particularly, I loved the unity that we showed after 9/11. The grace we afforded each other. I knew it would not last forever. Human nature mixed with a societal structure that isn’t made for unification. But, the grace I saw would stay with me forever. It is the only thing that gives me comfort from that day so I bundle it with all of the other things that will never leave me.
I hope when we remember 9/11 we also remember that when we do come together we are greater than we are apart. And, that we are all capable of not only receiving grace, but also giving it. Yes, grace!