Nine years and 362 days ago, I was exhausted from bartending a night shift and I fell asleep in the wee hours of September 11th, about an hour before everything changed forever.

I remember every second of that day, despite my lack of sleep and my bewilderment and shock. I remember the fear. My roommates went to work and I was alone and terrified. I remember the stupid things. I was too scared to shower, as if somehow getting clean was going to alter the course of events. I turned the TV on full-blast so I could hear it in the bathroom. The voices of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric gave me a false sense of control while I quickly rinsed myself.

I ran back and forth from my room to the balcony that overlooked the street below and the beach beyond. No one was outside on a gorgeous day. It was as if even the dogs and birds knew to not make noise. The wind was still. The waves were drowned out by the sound of fighter jets patrolling the coast.

The terror is what rushes back at me when I recall that day. I remember thinking that I would never feel that scared and out of control ever again. Unfortunately for me, that didn’t hold true. My own horrible loss has made me look at September 11th in a completely different way. I always knew that I’d watched people die that day, but before April 7th 2009, it never clicked that I had watched fathers, daughters, cousins, and spouses never come home. I couldn’t comprehend the pain, I was 22 and naive. It was sad, but I didn’t realize that it was SAD. I hadn’t lived enough, and I still, strangely, felt untouchable.

When Annabel is old enough to learn about September 11th, I wonder how she will process it. Its effects on our lives will certainly be felt throughout her lifetime, but will she be able to relate to it, to grasp the sheer magnitude of the awfulness since she didn’t live through it? I fear she may feel the same way about Madeline…sad and bummed but not exactly moved because she didn’t know her, even though Maddie’s passing will always be felt in our lives as well.

It’s all such sad, heavy stuff…and I’m glad that in three days, I don’t have to fumble for the words to explain any of this to Annie. How do you explain the unexplainable? I don’t know how. It’s just too hard.