It's almost unbelievable that the events of 9/11 were 10 years ago. 10 years ago today I stood in a colleagues office watching the tiny monitor in utter disbelief. I had just received a phone call from my best friend who just said 'Get to a television'.
The emotions of that day were unreal. Incomprehensible.
Since then I have been to New York on numerous occasions with various people, but on each visit I maintained I would not visit the site as I felt it was a grave yard and should be respected as such and carried in thoughts of visitors but not gawped at. I could not cope with the grief that I knew it would evoke.
8 years later, 2 years ago, I turned 30 and my gift from my husband was a trip to NYC with my best friend and long time travel buddy (I had recently noted I was sad that it would be unlikely that we would travel together again as she had just got married and I had discovered I was expecting our second child).
It was booked for four days from 9 September until 12 September. The hotel that was booked was in a different area to what we normally stayed, it was in the financial district, just blocks from the WTC site. I hadn't anticipated that the trip I would take would be so different to the normal buoyant one that we had experienced in years previously.
From the second we arrived the whole area was in shut down in preparation for the 9/11 memorial service. We were posted information under our door about the closed areas, and an Order of Service for the day. I spent hours avoiding looking at but when my friend took a shower I read it. And started to cry. I cried for most of the four days after that. I cried when we had to walk past the site as other routes were closed. I cried when I saw the sheer number of people arriving for the service. I cried when I heard the music playing on the loud speakers and my heart broke when I heard the names being read out.
Years of avoiding it, and finally I was forced to face the largest example of grief and emotion I will ever (and would ever want to) see. At the end of that third day I felt as emotionally drained as I think I ever will. Some will think it was because I was pregnant and over emotional, but I would like to see anyone be as close as we were to the service, to that much grief and sadness and not be affected.
My husband asked me if I had a good time when I returned home, and of course I had but I also told him I felt like an invader. Like I shouldn't have been there to witness all those affected directly by the atrocities of that day, to the family and friends who were trying to grieve and remember their loved ones.
I was happy to return home from that trip, to be lucky enough to return to the ones I love. I came back even more respectful of every single person involved in that day and the days after. To all those that have learned to love more, respect more and live more. To live for the memory of those lost.
In respectful memory of every soul lost that day. To those who lost their life with no idea it was coming and to those who gave theirs in trying to save others. Rest in peace. Your memories live on in NYC and around the world with a power like no other.
I will not be publishing a post for the next five days, this one will sit as a salute to the people of NY.