On this day, fifteen years ago, life changed.
I was a new mother
grappling with changes
finding joy in discovery
and excited about the journey I had embarked upon
with this tiny person I had brought into the world.
Then it all changed.
The world became darker
filled with unspeakable horror and pain
and craven disregard for human life.
I can still recall where I was and what I was doing that day
of being glued to the television
of watching buildings that I had grown up with
and ultimately crumble before my eyes
before the eyes of the world.
The fear I had within me was cloying and suffocating.
I knew people who worked near there
the woman whom I called my little sister
traveled through that building every morning and evening.
For what seemed like hours I tried to find her, to speak to her
to make sure that she was safe.
Ultimately she was,
but the horror of her experience was not something she could brush off
like the dust that settled upon the city.
For days, for weeks I watched the footage
still unable to fathom such evil
hoping each day that another survivor might be found
that another family might have a miracle.
I read the stories
my tears falling copiously upon the page
knowing some names
not knowing scores of others
but their stories were now for everyone to read.
I was moved by the incredible acts of bravery
and heartened by the way the world softened
for just a bit
and gathered together as brothers and sisters
I found out that the greatest loss, outside of the city itself,
came from the town I grew up in
a train ride from the city
a comfortable suburban haven by the sea
and I grieved anew for the losses.
Those six degrees of separation
I held my child closer
my heart heavy
wishing that this new reality was not hers, not ours
but knowing that this world, our world
was forever changed
the monster was no longer
under the bed.
Photograph by Jake Rajs