My 9/11 Story

September 12, 2011

In light of the ten year anniversary of 9/11, I have been asked to share my story of that day. This tenth year anniversary is so very important. We as a country survived the most vicious attack.  The day it happened in NYC was something I hope no one ever has to experience in the USA again. Only now, can I share the trauma of that day. Here is my experience of 9/11 as a NYer.

It was a gorgeous day in New York. It was sunny and warm with clear skies. I even remember what I was wearing; a skirt with a shirt and very high heeled opened shoes with no stockings. Mario was away on business in Italy for the week.  He usually would take Avery to school in the mornings. That morning I took Avery, who was six years old, to school in a car service, dropped her off and continued to my office on Broadway and 39th Street. In Times Square, on Broadway, is a huge TV screen; literally100 ft high.  I looked at it and I saw to my disbelief the World Trade Center being hit by a plane. I remember thinking to myself, how could a plane make a mistake of crashing into a building? Did the pilot have a heart attack? Was there a malfunction with the plane that they couldn’t maneuver?

On the radio in the car service there was someone speaking live from their apartment on Wall Street. They were telling everyone what they were witnessing. Then she said, “Oh my God!!  Another plane has hit the other tower!!!!”  I am thinking, “Holy crap. This is now no accident. This is a deliberate attack.”

I went into my office. I was the first to arrive. The phone was ringing off the hook as I was putting the key into the door. I answered and it was my Mom.  She was screaming at me, “Ramona get out of the city fast!!”  I think I went into temporary shock or disbelief. I actually went across the street to visit one of my clients that I had a 9:30am appointment with. When I returned to my office building twenty minutes later, there was a man on his cell phone out front. He was saying, “What?? What?! A plane crashed into the Pentagon?? The plane hit the Pentagon???”

I then knew for certain that we were under attack. I felt like I was in a movie.  This can’t be happening. This can’t be real.  But, it was.  I went back to my office, got my things together and told everyone to leave.

My strongest thought then was that I have to get Avery. I must get to Avery as fast as I can. I walked out of my office building and I saw clouds of smoke rising high from Wall Street. It was so eerie, scary and threatening. What was going on? Are we all going to die? Will I get to Avery in time? Oh how I wish Mario was here!

There were no cabs and I was not taking the subway. Maybe poisonous gas would be down there. Who knew what was going on?  The Air Force planes were buzzing over my head. This is not the U.S. This is not happening to my country. This has to be a bad dream.

I walked over 60 blocks in 5 inch heels. It was finally 1:30 pm when I reached Avery’s school on East 91st street and Fifth Ave. My feet were raw but I only wanted to get Avery. I was blind with my mission. The school obviously knew at this time what was going on. But, because our children were so young, they did not convey anything to them. So many moms and dads were outside the school to get their children. The school convinced us to wait another hour to receive our children at the normal dismissal time.  They did not want these young children to panic or be upset.  Panic? I am freaking out myself! But, okay. They made sense. What would one hour mean?  So, I waited.

My good girlfriend’s ex-husband was there. His daughter was best friends with Avery.  I asked him if he could speak to both girls together about what was going on as I was at a loss and really did not know what I should tell Avery. I realize now that I was in shock and did not trust myself to say the right thing to my child of 6 years, my most precious person in the world, my Avery. How could I explain to her something I was not even understanding myself!!?  David told me what he was planning to say to our girls. To this day I don’t remember what he said. I just remember it was the right thing to say to 6 year old children. I brought Avery home and I wanted to leave the city ASAP to our country house. That afternoon, they closed all the roads and bridges that led outside the city. I couldn’t leave the city. I was trapped. What if the fumes from Wall Street contained toxic elements? What if these fumes could hurt Avery’s lungs or worse, kill her?!? My thoughts were only for Avery, not myself. I needed to get her out of the city ASAP.

They opened the bridges and roads in the AM and I left the city so fast with her. I invited my girlfriend to join us with her two children and she did. One was Avery’s best friend.  I remember so vividly pulling up to our home in Southampton and such a feeling of huge relief came over me. I am safe here. We are all safe here. It was as if I was in another world.

It took me over sixth months to get over 9/11. I could not sleep well. I did not feel safe.  Every time I heard a siren, I would panic.

Here we are, ten years later, and the wound still feels fresh. But, as I watch the ceremony on the television of the new memorial I feel that we are finally rebuilding. We are united and forever connected. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who lost loved ones. My thanks go out to all of our heroes who saved us on that day and protect us every day since.
All I can say now is, God bless America, the best country in the world that I am so proud to be part of.

xo

Ramona

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17 Responses to “My 9/11 Story”

  1. kim said

    Very nice, Ramona. Hope you took your shoes off during the 60 block walk. 🙂 It does seem we are rebuilding and hopefully everyone can eventually find a sense of peace. Yesterday’s ceremony was nice though at times heart breaking to feel their pain.

  2. thank you so much for sharing. I feel those of us that do not live in the area get a better feel for the events through personal stories like yours. yes a mothers determination is frequently blinded by her motivation!!!!

  3. Missy said

    I am from Texas but had just returned home from NYC. My family & I had been in the WTC just days before the attacks. I had family members franticly calling me to see if we were still in NYC. It seems so unreal to me that those massive beautiful buildings could gone. I remember looking down from one of the top floors in WTC south tower and now I was seeing people so scared that they were jumping from the building. It was the most horrific sight I had ever seen. I don’t think I was able to fully comprehend the situation until I went back to NYC the following feb and went to Ground Zero. I have never felt such overwhelming sadness. I thank God that I am an American and so thankful for those that fight for our freedom & safety. We will never forget!

  4. Blackbirdsong said

    Thank you for sharing this, Ramona. Your writing really conveys all the fear and panic you must have felt. My cousin was there. She was in building number 7 of the World Trade Center Complex. Luckily, everyone in building 7 got away, before it collapsed. Thank you again for sharing your experience with us.

  5. Francie said

    Thank you Ramona for sharing your story. I remember that day vividly as well. Although I was at home in Georgia and not in NYC, that whole day seemed so surreal. I remember I had turned on the television to watch Live, with Regis and Kelly but instead the coverage of the plane crashing was on tv. I was at home with my almost 14 month old daughter Alexandria feeding get breakfast and staring in disbelief as I saw the second plane crash into the building. What a very sad day for America. God Bless Anerica!
    God Bless,
    Francie

  6. Renate said

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m in Canada but we are all united at times like these and hope this never happens in the USA or anywhere else again. Mario must of been frantic in Italy not knowing if you, Avery and family where all right.

  7. spirithome said

    Ramona, my heart goes out to you for what you went through. I am sure that all New Yorkers suffered from traumatic stress for a long time after 9/11. I believe the whole country suffered too. I was one of the lucky ones. I lost nobody from this tragedy. I was spared the urge to flee although it’s true, I thought about how to. In the aftermath, I was witness to a young child when hearing a plane above, drop to his knees and cower as he was walking along the sidewalk. My life has never been the same since and that child, oh that poor innocent child, his short life to that point changed dramatically. I called to him, “It’s okay honey. It’s safe.” He looked at me and shrugged in embarrassment to walk on into his new life. I will never forget, but that child was deeply affected and I hope he regains his feeling of security and love of his country. x

  8. Margo said

    I lived in Cincinnati at the time of the attacks. I was not directly impacted by the events of 9/11, but I feel I carry the scars of that day. Yesterday was quiet and reflective day as I watched the memorial services and events unfold again on tv. May we never forget those who lost their lives that day and thereafter protecting our country and freedom. As a mother of a precious 3 year old boy, I understand your instinct to protect your daughter. Avery is blessed to have you.

  9. msylvester said

    Dear Ramona,

    I think it is remarkable that you were able to open up and share a most horrific time in your life. So far away and not related to or knowing of anyone hurt or lost that day I have only the TV and newspaper articles of 9/11 that remain in my memory.
    It just amazes me that people have survived and gone on with living despite their loss. I commend you Ramona for your ability to move on from that day.
    I spent a good part of yesterday watching the memorial services. Watching the program 102 Minutes really affected me. Listening to the sirons that were constant, and so many different sounding sirons, I thought just that sound alone was so frightening.
    I too am hoping that in thinking “how could anything like that happen” that now I can think as a country we are fortunate to have the “Hero’s” and “Angels” protecting us so that thought never comes up again.
    We are lucky to be part of this wonderful country. And yes, God Bless America, always!

    Marlene

  10. Michele Donay said

    I left you a reply. If it’s not here then it’s on my facebook wall page…..it was you described it and much worse than anything we could have imagined…..Yes God Bless America. I hope you read my reply.
    Love,
    Michele Donay Talent Management

  11. Pamela said

    Now we have to remember as we near election time the fright Obama ignorantly exposed the city to when he had the jetliner buzz the City. Do you remember where you were when that happened?

  12. OMG, that is a day I will never forgot. What started out as a teasing my girlfriend for walking in the office 10 minutes late and saying how nice it must be to work banker’s hours to getting a phone call from my husband telling me he loved me and that he may not be coming home. I was in a daze the rest of the day. He called at 2:30 that afternoon to let me know he was home. I felt relief in hearing his voice and being held in his arms when I came home, I will never forget that after the shock started to die down the feeling of exhaustion and unknowing that clung to me for months. Plus, knowing that a family member was one of the first NY firemen in and never came back out. Yes, the whole family was affected but for those of us that were directly affected one way or another, we will always share that special bond.

  13. Mo said

    Ramona love you!!! I am glad that you are continuing with the show. Here are my tips Please try and get along with the new wives and Luann.Take the high road. Dont create unnecessary drama with castmates because it will backfire like it has backfired on your former castmates ;). Look at it this way, those who didnt want to tape with Bethany and targeted you this past season are out. Learn what NOT to do from these people. Focus on the positive events like you tried to this past season. For example I liked the dance class episode. You have a loving and amazing family that you are rightly proud of but like my mom you cant seem to stop talking about their accomplishments lol. Now as my sis had to tell my mom once, I will also say to you “..I get it but unfortunately it breeds a lot of jealousy and resentment”. You are a smart lady I think you get it. Take a moment, breathe and think before you speak:). Please dont become the villain remain true to yourself. Overrall treat others as you would like them to treat you.Good luck and God bless you and your family.

  14. Mo said

    I forgot to say. Dont be the person who is always talking about your former castmates on the show e.g. I remember how people kept wondering why Jill was still bringing up Bethany when she was nolonger on the show. If others bring them up fine but dont be the person who viewers will claim is obsessed with former castmates. You can also bet that some of these former castmates will be watching and waiting for anything they can use againt you in their interviews.
    Ps I just picked this medium (comment on board)as its the only way I could pass my tips along and they are really for you so you dont even have to post them on the board after reading them xoxo

  15. Kelly crabtree said

    Ramona,
    You are beautiful on tv but stunning in person! I came to read your blog tonight and have enjoyed all of your posts. I met you this weekend by rudely interrupting your lunch with Mario. Not a typical move for me, nor can I believe how nervous I was…but it made my weekend in NYC complete! I mean what are the odds? I have been watching you on bravo since the beginning.
    I can’t explain but the show is very therapeutic for me and something that I make time for week after week. Being a working mom with little ones, I love to watch you.
    I have a 5 and 3 year old daughters and my 5 year old was the first person I called to tell of my news of running into you! She was thrilled to say the least. The picture of us turned out great and tell Mario thanks for taking. Thanks also for being you! You are a realist with genuine feelings and so super nice…..even to a silly nervous fan!
    All the best to you!
    Kelly ….your St.Louis friend

  16. jayne said

    Hi loved the story, I was in Darwin NT Australia, work up for work turned the news on and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Wish you the best Jayne aussie.

  17. The President at the Time of 911 was Bush Jr. and not President Obama. Bush was in office from 2000 to 2008 and President Obama has been in office since 2009. He was not present let alone create this horror that was 911. It is in my memory and my heart for all the souls who perished on 911. God Bless everyone past, present and future.

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