It’s hard to believe that this weekend will mark 20 years since the horrific events of 9-11. Although I didn’t know anyone personally who died, my heart shattered (and still does) over the enormous and catastrophic loss of life that day. The sounds and images associated with 9-11 will never fade from my memory. The external reminders of a milestone anniversary notwithstanding, my subconscious also feeds me the attacks from time to time, and from a unique angle that makes me stop and ponder what it’s all supposed to mean.
I have a recurring dream that I wake up inside the north tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. It is 8:15 AM, just about a half hour before American Airlines Flight 11 will slam into the building. I am on or near the 100th floor, which places me above the impact zone, meaning if I’m here after impact, I will die.
One of the weird parts of the dream is that I am aware of the impending danger before it happens. In other words, I know I have 31 minutes to get below the impact zone to save my life. I also realize I have approximately 2 hours, 15 minutes to get out of the building altogether before it collapses.
This sounds doable, however, one other detail about this dream makes my task much more difficult. The other people in the building, including the hundreds on my floor are not equipped with this information. They are reliving September 11 like they did that morning, oblivious that murderous terrorists are hurtling at them at 500 miles per hour. It’s my responsibility to get them out.
I frantically attempt to round up a group of people and convince them to come with me.
“Sir, your life is in danger! You need to leave now!”
“Ma’am, a 767 is going to crash right into us! Please listen to me!”
“Will anyone PLEASE follow me down these stairs before they aren’t any stairs to walk down!”
Nobody listens. They just look right through me, as if I’m not there. It would be a little easier if, in my dream, they would acknowledge that a lunatic is in their midst. But no, they just blankly stare through me. I think that’s the hardest and strangest part of the dream for me. The staring. I can see into their eyes, but they do not see me at all. I’m able to understand that all these people are going to die, and I cannot save them. In the next hour or so, many of them will decide whether to die from a burning inferno, smoke inhalation, or by leaping out the window. They have no way of knowing that this is the end for them.
This is the point that I usually wake up. For a little while, I lie there, a feeling of helplessness coming over me. I have no understanding why I have this dream and really what it means. It’s almost as if I am being haunted by the residual spirits of 9-11 victims.
On this 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, my heart and prayers go out to the victims and their families.