Ten years ago was my brother’s 30th birthday.

I woke up at a friend’s house when she frantically yelled into the answering machine. I watched alone in horror when the second plane hit. Back at home in my apartment, my friends and I stared blankly at the TV screen all day and into night. My friend said something like, “I left Ireland to get away from terrorism, I never thought there would be terrorism like this here.”

I thought we were going to war. Would my brother have to go to war? (He didn’t but my then-boyfriend did. He reenlisted less than two weeks later. )

My best friend lived in NYC. And since I don’t know geography of the city well enough, I didn’t know how close she was to the World Trade Center and I couldn’t get through the phone lines to talk to her. Late that night I got a short, simple email I will never forget.

“The bridge was closed so I had to walk. I am home, tired, but safe.”

I sat there with the realization that there were so many people who would never get that email and I cried.

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