Since eight years ago today, I have yet to make it through a September 11th without leaking tears on and off all day; without hearing certain voices and sounds and, especially, silences; without seeing certain images in my mind's eye; without remembering the raw fear, and horror, and utter grief; without still trying to puzzle out, How could that have happened? Why would that have happened?

I was one of the luckiest ones that day: across the country, without any family in the disaster areas. I had a few close friends in New York City, and I had my fond memories of my graduate school days there, but I was not in a position to have my life collapse before my eyes, like so many did that day.

And still, I remember sitting on the couch with my twelve-day old Bean, watching the morning news. Hearing the anchor break in to say a small, private plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. Watching the video a few minutes later and thinking, That wasn't a small, private plane.

Watching live coverage a few minutes later. Seeing the dark shadow come through the sky. I remember my brain stopping -- briefly understanding on some subconscious level -- and then starting again. Then saying "Oh my God, there's another one."

I remember a sudden jerky split in the TV picture with an aerial view of a maze-like structure. "What's that?" Husband asked. "It's the Pentagon," I said. With a gash in its side, a black plume of smoke rising up.

I remember listening to the audio of a voicemail from a passenger on one of the planes. It was a message to his wife. He said, "It doesn't look good." He said, "I want you to do good, be happy." He said, "I hope I see you" but if not, "See you when you get here." As if he was already partly in that known-yet-unknown There, that eternal place where souls reside.

And then the bewilderment, the inability to comprehend that explosion of dust, and bricks, and paper, and lives -- the towers falling down.

I remember the eerie, silent skies above my house near the airport, which were usually so full of the distant rumbles and roars of jets overhead. And starting a few days later, the regular patrols of fighter jets that were The Bean's and my only company on our morning walks.

I remember trying to get through to my dear friend, LC, all day, all week, all the next week; hoping and praying that she and her husband were okay. I remember finally getting through to her office in late September, time standing still while I waited to hear the words, "We're all okay," the wash of weak-kneed relief when I heard those words in her sweet voice. I remember the joy and tears we shared over the phone lines that were finally, blessedly open again.

I remember waiting to hear the stories of amazing rescues, of people pulled - alive! - from the rubble hours, one day, two days after the attacks. I remember finally accepting that, with one or two exceptions, there were to be no such stories.

And I remember lying down in bed next to Husband that night, thinking of all the people in New York and Washington and across the country, who were lying down so utterly alone.

Sometimes I try to figure out why this still feels so raw, even to someone like me who, after all is said and done, really lost nothing on that day -- except a bit more of my innocence. But I have learned over the years to let feelings flow. If you need to remember, then remember.

I am remembering today.

And I am asking you to remember, too: Remember to tell your dearest ones how precious they are to you, and to say a little prayer for peace and other miracles.

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