Sept 11 2001. Ten years ago. Will we ever forget that date? Anyone who was old enough on that faithful day to understand will never forget. I know I won't.
I was just 16. 17 days before my 17th birthday.
I was living away from home on a farm doing what I loved to do, work with horses. My life had gone from complete darkness and hell, to light and peace. My upside down world had been righted. I was back in my element.
I woke up early that morning. I ate my breakfast and got dressed for the day. I was living with 5 others in a house on the farm we all worked at. 5:30 am and I was the only one up and moving. The house was peacefully quite. At 6 I headed out the the barn, just a short walk up in-between the paddocks. I had been working there for less than a month. Just really getting into the groove of things. I walked slowly in the morning sunlight, just enjoying the moments. I took a deep drag of my morning smoke and looked up into the clear blue sky, smiling. It was going to be a great tuesday. Two morning doves circled the sky above me steady and strong. I took it as a good sign. Was I ever wrong.
Walking into the barn I smiled as the show horses greeted me. Nickering and banging their feed bowls. "Hush guys, I'm getting to you." Cliffy was just coming down from his apartment in the hay loft to feed. When his boots hit the stairs, you could have sworn those pleasantly plump warmbloods were starved. Shoes banging walls, horses screaming there dismay at the slow, steadiness of his cowboy boots on the stairs. Above the pounding hooves and screaming calls Cliffy yelled for his barn cats. "BONNNNNIE..... BONNNNIE. BREAKFAST!"
I waved to Cliffy as he bent down to pick up his favorite cat Bonnie. He poured her cat food into a dish and set her down beside it crooning at her the whole time. Cliffy then set about getting the feed cart out and graining the hungry warmbloods. I followed behind him with a wheelbarrow full of hay. The morning was peaceful and routine.
At quarter to 7 the rest if the crew had made their way into the barn. We had our normal meeting over a smoke and Tim Hortons coffee brought in by the boss. Who's going where, who's doing what and who needs to be ridden by the boss. We got the first round of horses out by 7:30 and started mucking stalls. The barn was done by 8:30 and I was sent to get a clients horse ready for her 9:30 am lesson.
I set Foxy up in the grooming stall and got to work making him shine. The radio was bumping along beside me. I was blissfully unaware. In my own little world of perfection. I had Foxy all set and ready to roll by 9:10 am. Just before the first plane hit the first tower.
At 9:15 the barn phone rang. My farm manager answered. It was our client. She was just up the road and told the farm manager of the first plane hitting the twin towers. She hung up the phone and ran to grab everyone from their duties. Everyone was ushered upstairs to the office and the TV. We all dropped everything to watch. We watched as the second plane hit. We watched the jumpers. We watched the towers fall. At some point during this our client had arrived. She too stood around the TV with us. No one said a word. Tears rolled down cheeks and gasps were all that could be heard as things played out on the news.
I remember getting up and untacking Foxy. There would be no lesson today. It didn't need to be said. It was understood. I went back to watch the TV after putting Foxy back in his stall. The rest of the horses could wait.
I remember thinking it was a horrid hoax. I remember watching the planes fly over the farm. Redirected from the USA to Toronto,Ontario. Could one land on us? Our farm was right on top of a major natural gas pipe line. Would we become a target? With each plane that passed over I cringed. The depression I had ran from was returning. The anxiety was gripping the edges of my sanity. I wanted to run and hide. But I stayed rooted to the spot, watching that damn TV.
The jumpers. The firefighters, police, EMS, and good citizens covered in a thick grey dust. The mushroom cloud. The fire. The papers scattering the air. The gravity of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks.
I don't remember what we did that afternoon. I don't remember pulling myself away from the TV. I do remember bringing in horses long after they were due to come in. I remember working away at my tasks for the day, just going through the motions. I no longer smiled. I only looked up at the sound of a plane passing over head.
I am not a religious person by any means. When I turned 12 I stopped joining my family at church. I no longer said prayers at night or even really believed in a god. On Sept 11th 2001, I prayed. I prayed for the innocent people inside the buildings and planes. I prayed for the police, firemen, EMS, and the good citizens who were helping get people out. I prayed for their family's. I prayed they would all get out alive.
I laid in my hammock that night after dinner and just looked up into the sky. I laid there for hours. I finally got up long after the sun had set, and the stars had risen. Long after I had been called in by my housemates and coworkers. I said nothing to anyone as I sat on the couch. I just stared at the TV. The news was back on. Replaying the horrific details over and over again. I didn't need to see it to know what had happened.
The world had changed forever.
The world is still recovering 10 long years later.
I am still recovering 10 long years later.
I may not have been there.
I may not have had anyone inside the area.
But it still effected me profoundly.
My the souls of the lost rest in eternal peace.
I will never forget.
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