I was living in North Bend, Washington, a tiny town nestled in the foothills of the Cascades about 45 minutes east of Seattle. My friend Danielle was visiting. She lived in Queens. She was out here to reconnect with me and to see a part of the country she hadn’t seen before. We were driving in to Bellevue, where she was going to drop me at work and take my car. We turned on NPR, kind of randomly, clueless. That’s when we heard the news.
What strikes me is how long it took for my understanding of the situation to develop. I was at work, in a small office, in a small office building. The news came in drips and drabs. There was little sense of danger or threat at first, and I didn’t see the pictures of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, or see the smoking wreckage at the Pentagon until I got home that evening.
For a couple of days we sat glued to the television set – as, I gather, did most everyone else. We spoke on the phone with friends from all over the country. Danielle tried to find out if her friends in New York City were safe and sound (all accounted for, all unharmed, thank God). I spoke with friends and family about what this all meant. I recall how sharply life had changed on that day. My friends were all from the comedy world, and all of a sudden comedy seemed a very hard thing to contemplate or achieve. We didn’t know when, or if, anything would be funny again.
I visited the World Trade Center site last Christmas. It simply looked like a construction site, except for the tributes lining the fence. I don’t have any personal memory of the towers except for a glimpse of them in passing when I visited New York in 1989. It’s hard for me to fully understand what happened on that day. Life ended then, and life goes on. It goes on and we pause and remember and honor the victims and the heroes of that day and the remembering makes life more precious. My life has changed in so many ways since that day. I’m married now, and I’m going to go back to bed and lie next to my sleeping wife and hold her tight and thank God for the time we have together, and pray for the victims once more.