September 21, 2001
Ruby Wachter

I am screaming as loud as I can - I cannot stop screaming - I have been screaming for a week now. But my screams are silent. I cannot make sounds. I cannot make any sense. I have been on a hijacked airplane, terrified, facing destruction and death. I have been escaping burning fire and collapsing structures. I have been covered with ashes. I have been trapped, unable to breath, facing doom. And then I shower and wash the ashes away - but not the terror. The attack on America last week has left me so devastated - I do not know who I am anymore.

I am everyone's mother, as I see the beautiful faces of all the vital young people lost. I am everyone's sister as I grieve for all the brothers and sisters not found. I am everyone's child as I ache for my missing parents who will never come home again. I cry out for my husband - and then I am able to reach out and hold him. And I am able to reach out to my children and my friends and my family and they are reaching out to me - and we are the lucky ones - if not but for the grace of God.

From the first moments of the impact I along with the rest of the civilized world have been in a state of shock. It is impossible to grasp the enormity of this tremendous tragedy. Every waking moment has been spent groping and searching for news reports feeling lost and desperate for answers. Every sleeping moment replays the grim horrors of the day. As each day passes my outrage, my grief and my compassion grow deeper. Any hope of survivors turn to despair. My mission is finding a way to go on with my life - which I know, will never again be the same.

Apparent immediately after the initial shock was a sense of eerie stillness. The skies were void, traffic was crawling, stores were empty and people moved slowly in a daze. It was as if the world as we knew it had ceased to exist. People began to bond - together they cried, they mourned, they searched, they prayed, they sang and cried some more, and they hugged each other a lot. We were united together in grief and apprehension - fearful of what was next. How would we ever be able to board a plane again? Would we ever be able to browse at a mall again? When can we travel abroad? Our world is now fragile and unfamiliar. How safe will our children be in school? How safe are we? Along with profound promises of heightened security and retaliation we continued to mourn all we lost - America was stunned.

Hopefully this will be a time for reflection - a time for healing - a time for resolving conflicts and disagreements with those we care about and hopefully we will all stand together as one nation, indivisible.