September 11th was the day I finally realized the person I was dating at the time was going to be the woman that I marry.
It’s as vivid now as it was 18 years ago. My girlfriend, Jessica, had a doctor appointment on the morning of 9/11 near my apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Rather than stay at her place downtown and commute directly from her job on the 99th floor of the South Tower at the World Trade Center, she spent the night at my apartment so she could arrive at her doctor’s appointment on time.
On the morning of September 11th, I felt like a boxer getting a round of jabs to the head.
Punch. A dizzying feeling in my midtown office as the first phone call came in from Jessica’s best friend. She was hysterical, crying because she saw the flames from her morning commute on the Staten Island Ferry and knew Jess worked in one of the towers.
Punch. No one was able to reach my girlfriend on her cell phone. Did she race down to the office after her doctor appointment?
Punch. More calls streamed in from my friends, family and Jess’s family as the entire world watched on their computer monitors and television screens the horror that unfolded. Still, no communication with my wife. Most cellular service halted in New York City and everyone feeling fearful, confused and horrified. Our office closed for the day and sent everyone home.
In my gut, I knew she was OK because I saw her early that morning on her way to the nearby appointment. But I longed just to hear her voice to get confirmation that she was safe.
We finally connected later that afternoon. She never went into her office that day. She lost her boss and mentor, several friends, and numerous colleagues in the 9/11 tragedy. The silver lining is that day brought us closer together as we cried, grieved and supported each other in the aftermath. We will never forget.