Numb

I’m hurting.

I don’t think that this hurt will ever stop.

I may be one of those tough New Yorkers, but I hurt like so many of my fellow New Yorkers. I hurt like my fellow Americans. I hurt like my fellow human beings.

I sat numb and awestruck at what I witnessed last Tuesday. I couldn’t pry myself away from it all. I was glued in front of the television. Never mind the mountain of work that I had on my desk, or what anyone else was doing. I couldn’t pry myself away from that television.

I couldn’t pry myself away from watching a place where I had worked for two years get devastated. I used to walk that area every day. I used to take the E train at Chambers Street every single day. I was inside or in the shadow of the World Trade Center every day anywhere from 8-9:30 a.m. I wondered what might have happened had I continued down that career path.

I wondered how widespread it was, and wondered if my sister was anywhere close to it on that day. Did she have a meeting down there? Was she in her office 15 blocks North of the World Trade Center? Was she in that building? Where was she???

Where was my uncle, the New York City Police Lieutenant? Was he working this morning? Was he there helping out? Where was he, and what was he doing?

Where was one of my best friends, a New York City police officer? Was he patrolling in that area that morning? Where was he, and what was he doing?

Where were some of my former bosses? All of the friends I used to work with? Where were they, and what were they doing?

One by one, the calls came in. My uncle was late for work. He didn’t make it in until later. Seems like a neighbor had blocked in his driveway and he couldn’t get out.

My friend was now down helping out. He wasn’t patrolling that morning.

My sister watched the entire thing from her boss’ office. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me as I talked to her on Tuesday afternoon. And then she told me that her father-in-law was supposed to be working on the 88th floor that morning. But he called in sick and didn’t go in.

I was relieved but I was hurting.

I watched in agony as one of my co-workers was wondering about his girlfriend’s brother, who worked on the 82nd floor. That afternoon he found out the brother had gotten out safely.

It was just all too surreal. I just couldn’t believe it was happening. But it was, and the hurt I was feeling was incredible.

My city, where I spent my years growing up, was never going to be the same. How was I to know that when I saw the Twin Towers less than two months ago — from across the river at Giants Stadium while attending the Bon Jovi concerts — it would be the last time I would see them live and in person? How was I to know that people I used to work with, friends I know, would be in a different place after this past Tuesday? It all hurts.

I went home on Tuesday, relieved, but still hurt. I watched every single channel on the television. My fingers were hurting from pressing the remote control too much. Finally at 4 a.m. I had to go to sleep.

I woke up the next day, as usual, at 6 a.m. I was hurting, physically mostly, but hoping that this was a dream. Katie Couric and Matt Lauer told me otherwise. It was real. The Twin Towers were gone. A piece of my youth and childhood was gone. And it hurt.

I did manage to get some work done, but every half hour or so, it was back for more updates. And when I got home, my finger hurt some more as I continued to flip that remote.

I watched as people tried to help out. I watched as people looked for loved ones. Many times I came close to all out tears.

I tried to go to sleep, but every time I thought I would go to sleep, I had to stay up a little bit more to see if anything had happened. If someone was found. I went to bed hoping and hurting.

I haven’t slept much since Tuesday. I never thought that anything would ever affect me this way. But, I found out something about myself. I’m afraid and scared right now of things I never thought I would be afraid and scared of.

It may sound funny, but I am scared to call my parents. I’m scared to call my sister. I’m 150 miles away from them and I am afraid to call them. I’m afraid because I think that they will tell me that someone I know, someone they know, is missing. I’m afraid to hear it. I’m afraid to hurt even more than I am right now.

I was afraid to do my duties as the PA announcer at this weekend’s Rensselaer-Coast Guard football game. I didn’t know if I could hold it as I might have had to talk about it and ask people to observe a moment of silence. But the game was cancelled. I didn’t have to face that this weekend.

Life will continue to get back to normal after this weekend. I’ll work on the new college hockey season and the preview that Becky and I have to get done. I’ll watch the Mets play Pittsburgh this week hoping to somehow take the NL East (probably interspersed with flipping the remote to the news channels). I’ll hop on a plane sometime in the next six weeks. I’ll be on the air at Boston University on October 13 when Rensselaer plays at Walter Brown with all the emotion there, and I don’t know that I’ll be able to hold it in.

My city is trying to pick up the pieces right now. My uncle, my friends, are helping in the effort to find survivors in the rubble. I am so proud of them and proud to call myself a New Yorker. But, the place where I grew up will never be the same again.

And I know one other thing — the hurt will never go away.

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