It's raining today.
A heavy, wind-driven rain.
It's not at all like that day eight years ago when the sky was that perfect color of blue and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. It was a day that seemed too perfect for the atrocities that unfolded.
That day was like having a hurricane roar out of the clear blue sky. To some it was a direct hit, changing their world, their life, forever. For my family, it was a glancing blow. We felt the effects of it, but not the full brunt.
It was getting the phone call, from my Mom, telling me that two planes had crashed and the top of the World Trade Center was on fire.
It was not comprehending what that meant, assuming it had to be two small planes. An accident. Not a deliberate act.
It was turning on the radio and starting to understand what had happened.
It was turning on the TV and seeing nothing. Because we don't have cable or satellite and all the transmitting antennas were on top of the World Trade Center (except for channel two, which was on the Empire State Building - that and PBS were the only channels we had for months).
It was feeling shaky with panic and wanting to cry, but not wanting to do any of that in front of the kids, because they were only four and one.
It was trying to call my husband at work (not in NYC) but not being able to get through because all the phone lines in the area were jammed.
It was going outside to talk with neighbors. Because that's what neighbors do at time like that and then going inside and watching the news on their TV, and while the kids played in another room watching the first tower collapse. And all I could think was "the people got out, right?" But somehow knowing that they hadn't.
It was driving to the waterfront with a friend (and the kids) to see for myself the changed skyline. Where the towers had always been, instead there was a pillar of smoke. Smoke that lingered in the air for days.
It was hearing about friends of friends who had gotten that last phone call: "I'm leaving now" but never heard anything else.
It was hearing the stories, not on the news, but from people at the school playground, of the person who had missed the train, or had decided to stop and buy shoes, so was running late to work that day, and never made it to the towers, but instead got to come home to family.
It was seeing a couple of lonely cars in the train station parking lot late at night and wondering if the owners were coming back.
It was flyers on telephone poles as people searched for information about loved ones.
It was pages and pages of obituaries. Mostly of young people, all with that same line: Died, September 11, 2001.
It was having my friend say "I thought you should know, the girls were playing funeral this afternoon. We've been to a couple lately, and I guess it's been on my daughter's mind."
And the effects lingered. When my daughter started kindergarten the next year, it was hearing that the school had a lockdown plan and what to expect if you couldn't get your child from school. To which my brain responded, "like h*ll I'm leaving my five-year-old in school overnight" but at the same time realizing that something might happen that would make it necessary. Because after September 11, anything could happen, the world no longer felt safe.
Even more years later it was the bully in my son's kindergarten class, about whom parents nodded sadly and said "his father was killed on 9/11".
Today my kids will have lessons in school about 9/11. Will they remember that clear blue day when their mother hugged them tighter and they stood on the fishing pier and watched a huge pillar of smoke?
They might not remember.
But I do.