After 10 years, she thought she had put distance behind her, in the way that the pain of losing a close relative may leave an occasional pang, but not the gut-wrenching feeling experienced in the immediate wake of death.
But her emotions are close to the surface. And as the anniversary reminders stream across the news pages, online and on television, the events of that fateful day all come flooding back. The only way to deal with it, she said, is to express her thoughts anonymously – as if giving name to it might make the pain worse.
“I had to take some time to think about your request,” the woman, who requested anonymity, said when asked how she was coping all these years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. “I really did feel that I had put that day in perspective, especially after 10 years. But, as I sit and watch all of the commercials and ads about the upcoming anniversary, I find myself turning away and my eyes welling up with tears as I review the days and weeks after the attack. To this day, I still do not know exactly how many of my old co-workers from Wall Street days did not make it. While I have been back to NYC since 9/11, I have never had the guts to visit the site. I can’t even look out the window when flying into LGA (LaGuardia Airport).”
“When people around me talk about the event, I can’t even contribute to it,” she added. “I guess this all means that I hadn’t put it as far back as I thought.”
The tragedy that was 9/11 continues to haunt survivors who lost family, friends, co-workers or those who simply lost the invincible feeling of security from international threats that once came with being an American.
Even those who feel they have largely gotten past the worst of the memories find that all kinds of events, large and small, can trigger an emotional reaction.
Sondra Jackson, a retired visual information specialist at the Pentagon whose office was directly across from the building struck by the plane, initially said that her feelings about the events of that day “are not that strong.”
Caught as she was heading out to a birthday party on Monday for her niece, Jackson said she had little time to comment and wouldn’t have any later in the week because she was going out of town.
But then, her thoughts spilled out.
Since retirement, Jackson said, she has had no contact with any of the co-workers with whom she shared that experience, which helped to put some distance between her and the attack on the Pentagon.
Besides, she said, the events of that day were surreal.
“Just seeing a little of a story that will come on TV soon, I thought to myself, ‘It’s almost like it didn’t happen,’” Jackson said, “but I didn’t lose anyone in the tragedy, like so many people. My experience only dealt with having to work in the aftermath the next day – with the strong smells of the soot, etc. that lingered in the building, even though I was two sections away from where the plane crashed into the building.”
Five years ago, in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com, Jackson said the years since the attacks had left her feeling unsure about where the world was headed.
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