9 Years

Nine Years.

3, 287 days.

78,892 hours.

4,733,538 minutes.

284,012,334 seconds.

The time is relative, because September 11, 2001 still feels like yesterday. Every year at this time, I am 21 years old and I am sleeping soundly in my bed in Austin. That is, until I was rudely awakened to a world changed forever.

Tower two on fire
Plane crashing into tower one
Pentagon on fire
Tower one falling
Tower two falling

My uncle was in the Pentagon. Thrown across the room. But our minds wandered for hours not knowing if he was okay or not until he was able to get an active phone line to contact his family.

I stayed up for 48 hours. I couldn’t sleep. I was terrified I would miss something. I didn’t cry, I didn’t talk. I didn’t move. I literally sat on the couch for 48 straight hours. Shocked.

By the time I got up from the couch a few days later, I worked my way to the computer and to the Washington Post. As I read through the list of Pentagon victims, I started recognizing names…

…Kip Taylor
…Timothy Maude
…Karl Teepe

Kip Taylor I had known since I was ten years old living in Indiana. He and my dad worked together and I always had great memories of Kip. He and my dad golfed together frequently, and my dad always had nice things to say about him.  He was ridiculously tall and larger than life and I remember vividly, always looking up to him with his sun splashed blonde hair, and thinking, “what an awesome guy.”

Timothy Maude was actually General Maude. Another former co-worker of my dads while in the army, as well as golfing buddy. He was the creator of the slogan “Army of One.” He was a friend of my fathers.

Karl Teepe. I didn’t know him personally, but I only knew one other person with the last name Teepe. One of my friends from high school. His dad, retired military, died that day in the Pentagon.

As I took the list downstairs for my Dad to read, I was shocked to learn that he knew far more people on the list then I expected. As it turns out, the office that he used to work at in the Pentagon had moved to where the plane hit. I just thought…what if he hadn’t retired a year prior. The what if’s were mind numbing.

I don’t know if 9/11 will ever get any easier to cope with. Or if it will ever become just a memory, and not something that we all live with everyday I just know that it has been five years and it’s still clear and vivid as ever. The feelings, the sites, the sounds…the aching. So close, and never far.

Death certificate number 0001 was issued to Father Michael Judge, who died when Tower two collapsed. I’m not a religious person, but, I heard someone say something a few years back that I have kept close ever since. Father Judge was the first to die, so that he could be there to welcome everyone else who would follow. I don’t know what to believe when it comes to religion, but I do believe that that statement is one of the most comforting & absolute statements I have ever heard. It helps, even if just a little bit.

The first tears that I cried were almost a week later. The day that Father Michael Judge was burried. It was real. It was so permanent. And I gave into it, and I cried.

Nine years.

Never Forget.

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