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9/11...20 years later

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This is my sister and me at the World Trade Center.

We had visited the Twin Towers more than once. When I see this photo, I am instantly taken back to this particular day.

This day, our visit was different. This time we were able to go out on the roof.

The conditions had to be just perfect for visitors to be allowed on the roof.

That day the wind was calm. The white clouds danced perfectly in the sky.

We walked out on the roof, and it was exhilarating.

I have always been a bit of a thrill-seeker, and the rush of being out on that roof was indescribable.

There were only a few of us that high up that day. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine precisely how high we were.

The wind hit my face like never before. I let my ponytail loose.

My hair was flying free without abandon.

I giggled each moment I tasted the hair in my mouth as the strands tried to find their direction 1,368 meters up in the sky.

I looked at the other tower, and I could see it swaying ever so slightly.

It was an absolutely mind-blowing experience.

Then 9/11 happened.

Like every American, I stared in shock at the images on my television.

I was in complete denial that the roof that once captured my imagination as a child collapsed to a pile of rubble.

No, it was not possible.

My mind could not fathom what I was witnessing, and I sobbed.

I changed the television station a million times to find one that would say this was not happening.

It was too overwhelming to imagine what the people on the upper floors experienced.

Now that I am a mother, 9/11 has become even more sobering.

How many parents lost their lives that day?

How many left their home in a hurry that morning because they thought they would be back by 5?

I imagine a mom yelling, “We will have our dance party when I get home tonight!” as she hurries out the door to get to work on time.

It has been 20 years since 9/11.

I look at this picture now, and I smile. I smile at the memory. I smile at what was.

I also feel dread when I look at this picture. Inescapable sadness for all that was lost.

That day when we went out on the roof, my mom put down her camera and instead took out her video recorder.

I still have not brought myself to watch the video.

Never Forget.

This post originally appeared on the author's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/shepensblog

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