The alarm went of at 8:55 a.m. and the urgent sound of the DJs was a stark contrast to the crap lite-rock music format that usually angers me enough to wake me from sleep.
A hijacked plane had crashed into the World Trade Center building. Another plane had hit a part of the Pentagon.
My eyes went wide, but I still lay there on my back, just listening.
They said it had happened earlier and my brain mentally calculated. It hadn't happened at 9:02 a.m. Maybe it wasn't connected to Oklahoma City. I coaxed my sleepy brain to remember today's date. September 11. Not the 19th. Another non-connection.
In the hours that followed, I watched the TV news, looked at what news sites were available (our local newspaper had AP wire stories up, but CNN was down for a while). I even skimmed discussion forums on some Web sites, hearing people who were in New York or New Jersey, describing the view from a few buildings over.
I don't think I know anyone who works there. Not now, at least.
My mother called. My dad instant messaged. All the bases were closing. Flights were cancelled. E-mails.
I'm out of the office this week, and it feels very strange to be separated from the news scramble. From e-mails, I can see what's being worked on, which stories are being sussed out.
During Oklahoma City, I was working, blocking out the emotions and the enormity of the situation. I couldn't imagine seeing it from the outside. In fact, I never really knew how the world away from there saw and perceived it all.
Now I know. It's a helpless feeling.
I watched, live on TV, as the second tower collapsed on itself, plumes of smoke and debris exploding out.
You can only watch. It's so far away, but it feels like it's everwhere.
A flight from Boston to L.A. Washington attacked. New York.
And maybe this isn't all of it. Maybe there's more.
We can donate blood. We can call our loved ones and see if they're okay.
But no one's even ventured a guess as to a death toll. In OKC, there were early estimates even within hours.
But right now nobody even wants to think about a number. It's too many. Too many shattered lives.
My dad and I were talking. He asked what I thought. " I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner, honestly," I said. Not to make light of it. Not to make it hurt any more. But after Oklahoma City, I could never feel safe again. I knew it could happen again, any time, any place. We are vulnerable. We live unsafe lives. It's too easy to destroy.
Uncle Bob says to pray. I want to. But I don't know what to pray for. An end to the suffering? Justice for the victims? A low death toll?
It's too big, too much.
I don't know what to pray for. Or how.
But I'm going to try.