I watched my son look out the bus window this morning, taking in all the sights of Brooklyn's less well traveled neighborhoods. I felt suddenly relieved, impossibly thankful that he does not know the horror, at least not yet. Not ever, hopefully. But at least not yet.
The confusion, the inability to process what I was watching on television, what was happening eight physical miles south of where I stood, but in reality, much, much closer.
The futile telephone calls to my father, who worked less than a mile away from the site, and my sister, who was in the city for an interview in an unknown location.
The accounting professor who stood in the door insisting we come into class just as we watched a tower fall to the ground in a heap, like a blanket, or a movie set.
The wandering, the shell-shocked ambling after I knew my family was safe. Should we give blood? Should we do our Corporate Finance assignment? Should we talk?
The flinching at the sound of indeterminate jets overhead.
Watching the horrendous clips over and over and over again.
And the days that followed, when I found out that my dad had gotten one of the last ferries off the island, only to watch the second tower crumble in on itself and disappear before his very eyes. And that an acquaintance from high school was in one of those towers. That he had called his parents and left a message of love, knowing he was going to die.
The relief that, unbelievably, for a person born and raised in and around New York City, with a father who worked on Wall Street, I didn't personally know anyone else who perished.
The realization. How much worse it must be, will be, for so many other people.
I watched my son's innocent, untarnished eyes scan his surroundings. He was riveted by the buildings, sidewalks and people that make up our city. Our city bruised but not beaten. The indelible images impressed on my retinas are invisible to him.
As for me, I can't unsee that day.