I ran blindly, trying to flee. My mind screamed at me to escape, to jump into the bay. And then there was David.
“I won’t let go of your hand. I promise,” David said as the first building roared and imploded, encasing us in a cloud of debris. The stranger’s steady grip guided my wobbly legs to standing, enabling me to breathe.
For twenty years, I’ve wished I could’ve been a 9/11 hero, like David. That day, I’d yearned to carry the panicked young mother’s diaper bag as she ran for cover, her infant strapped to her chest. I’d longed to console the grief-stricken woman murmuring about the horror she saw when exiting the building. But I didn’t. I couldn’t do any of those things. Instead, I went to pieces and sheltered behind a dumpster, incapable of being anyone’s hero. When the pandemic presented an impossible situation, I prayed for the same strength that evaded me on 9/11.