September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Story:My story of 9/11/2001
This day started off as the average day for me. I got up extra early, drove to Gordons Corner Deli to purchase my Academy Bus tickets then drove to the parking lot and proceeded to catch the 4:40am bus. I arrived to my destination (WTC) about 5:40am. I bought my breakfast at the corner vender and then proceeded up the escalator to 7 WTC. I got to my desk, dropped off my bag and then went to the gym, which was located on the 47th floor. I always arrived at 6:00am and worked out to about 7:00am. As I stood on the treadmill, I watched the beautiful sunrise, which I have done on a daily basis. After the workout, I took my shower then went down to my desk on the 33rd floor.
My Best buddy Tom came in early that day and asked if I wanted to run down to the cafeteria to grab some breakfast. I told him I would be a few minutes; I had some things to do. This was a little bit before 8:30, however before heading downstairs, I grabbed my green card holder, which had money and the bus tickets I bought that day.
When we got to the cafeteria, we ordered breakfast, all of a sudden, this woman I knew ran and hid by her cash register hysterically crying, pointing to the window. The expression on her face was something I will never forget. When Tom and I ran to the window, we saw a plane wing falling from the sky, debree hitting the ground, pieces of the building falling from the sky. I remember saying to Tom, what kind of a fucking idiot would fly his plane so low knowing there is tall buildings in NYC. Then the TVs in the cafeteria went on, we saw a picture of the one tower on fire. I tried to calm people down, I tried to hold them and insure them that everything would be ok. I had absolutely no idea if that were true. I felt people, at that time, needed to hear that everything was going to be ok.
As Tom and I were making our way back up stairs, there was a HUGE explosion, the whole building shook, glass started to partially shatter. The screaming went right through you, the lights were flickering and no one knew what the fuck was going on. No one was telling us anything. We all thought at that moment we were going to die. There was so much panic that set in and we had no where to go. All the doors were locked and no one was letting us out of the building. There were explosions every 10 seconds; our building did not stop shaking.
I remember at that moment life was at a stand still, no one could move fast enough, I heard my friend call my name, he sounded a distance away and I could not turn around fast enough. I did not know where to go. All I knew at that moment I was going to die that day and I was never going to get a chance to see my kids again. Tom grabbed my hand and pulled me to run up the escalator back to the cafeteria. I remember running like a mad person to find a phone to try and get through to my kids. It was chaos everywhere, people running and no where to go. I remember being stopped by one of the cafeteria workers, telling me to go the other way and get out, the building is about to collapse. My life was in slow motion; I did not know where to go. I was so confused. Every time I picked up a phone, it was dead. There was no way to reach out to someone to get to my kids. I caught the cafeteria TV, the most unforgettable, horrible picture I saw was the other tower got hit and they were now both on fire. It did not seem real, my feet were like concrete blocks, I could not move. Tom got my attention, we ran down to the main floor where there were hundreds on people and no where to go. All the doors were locked, the building was shaking, there was no way out!!!!!!
Tom and I found an emergency phone and we were told we could not use them. I grabbed the person behind the desk and told her, I needed to hear my kids voice, even for a second, I know I will never see them again. The phones were unable to connect out of the 5 Boroughs. I called my daughters father, Anthony Cavalieri, who lives on Staten Island and works for Rescue 5. I left him a message Anthony, its Debbie, I am in 7 WTC. The towers have been hit by fucking planes; we are locked in the lobby. I dont know if I am getting out, I am going to die, please take care of the kids and tell them I love them. The phones went dead. The explosions outside were over bearing, the sound of these huge pieces of concrete hitting the ground right in front of you were 100 times the sound of an M80 going off.
I remember praying so much, it hurt, my whole body hurt. The explosions, the screaming, crying all around me. The looks of death in each and every face, I will never forget that. As Tom and I ran back to the cafeteria, we turned around and at the window, we saw a huge piece of the building come crashing to the ground, like dynamite. The glass shattered all around us and we had no where to run. After a while when tom and I came back down from the cafeteria, the main floor was completely empty except for a few security guards. They asked, what the hell are you still doing here? They told us to go down below and exit out on Vessey Street. You have to understand Vessey Street was where all the debree was falling. Once outside, we had to duck from the falling debree, we ran so fast, we turned the corner ran a little further. I stopped dead in my tracks; I turned around, which was the worse thing I could have done. There was a huge hole in one of the towers on fire, thick black smoke everywhere, what I thought was debree, was actually human bodies hitting the ground with an uncontrollable force. I could not move, Tom kept pulling me to go with him, I told him I needed to go back. I needed to go back and everyone was out of the building (7WTC). It was my job as the Firemans Deputy to make sure that everyone was out of the building. He turned to me, shook me and assured me that everyone was out. I did not believe him, I told him I needed to get to the towers to help out. I needed to save people. I needed to go back there, these people need help. Tom kept pulling me, I could not move. I finally went with him; I do not know where we were running. I could not help but keep looking back. I could not believe what I was looking at. It did not feel real.
I asked Tom where we were running to, he said the nearest subway to get the hell out. I told him I cannot leave, I need to go back and help out. I felt so helpless knowing there were people dying and I was going to survive. I saw human figures in the air soaring like a bird that lost their will to fly and I could not do a goddamn thing. I felt helpless, so helpless. I gave into Tom, I went with him. I cried the whole way, I remember getting off the train. We were going to Toms apartment in midtown (I think). I was crying uncontrollably. I remember seeing many people walking from down town. While we were on the train, the 1st tower collapsed. We found this out when we got to his apartment. The news stations showed it over and over again. I was so angry with Tom for not letting me stay to help, but I was forever grateful to him for saving my life.
Tom and I went up to his roof that is when we saw the 2nd Tower collapse. I fell to my knees; every bit of life I had in my body was drained from me completely. My life went down with those buildings and all the souls in them. My life was shattered beyond recognition. The only thing I thought of was Why did I survive? Why did I survive? My second home was there, that is the place I spent my whole day, chatting with my friends while meeting new ones, shopping or just sitting with my friend(s) and eating ice cream. Most of those people that died on this day I must have passed a million times not knowing they will never be seen or heard from again.
After a couple of hours, the news reported that 7 WTC had just collapsed. Tom and I looked at each other with so much sadness, sorrow, heartache; we grabbed each other and held on for hours. No words could ever explain how we felt at that moment.
Tom lived right across from the NY Hospital, I remember watching all the doctors, nurses and staff waiting for the injured to come, however, there were not enough, very few. Tom and I watched the whole night into the morning; I can count on 2 hands how many arrived. We both knew at that moment many lives were lost that day.
I remember trying to get through to my kids, 12 hours from the time we made it back to Toms apartment that had passed and I was still unable to talk to my kids.
At about 2-3am the next morning, Toms friend got a message to my sister Linda to inform her that I was ok. I found out that the 33rd Street Path train was up and running. I told Tom I needed to get onto the train and get home. At about 5:00 that night, Tom took me to the Path train and I was then on my way home to see my kids. I called my other Best Friend Peter, who was my other boss that lived in Matawan NJ. I talked to his wife Pat and asked her to have Peter meet me at the Matawan Train station in a couple of hours. After getting off the train and seeing my friend Peter, he was the beginning of my rainbow. He got the heartbeat going for me again. I would not let go of him; my arms held him so tight. He drove me home and there awaited my kids with open arms, seeing them completed my rainbow. I honestly thought I would never see them again. I said goodbye to Peter as he watched me go into the house with the kids. They were so happy to see me, we were so very happy to see each that tears rolled from their eyes, as I have never seen that before in the way they shed them. I missed them so very much; my kids complete my life as I do their lives. Without each other, we are lost. The last thing I remember, they put me to bed.
I spoke with my sister Linda the next day, which was Friday afternoon; she had informed me that Patrick, her husband was in the WTC for a breakfast meeting that morning. There has not been any word on his whereabouts. Many days have passed and we found out that Patrick was at Windows of the World that morning and never made it out. He was also with his brother-in-law who was also lost.
My sister Linda at the time was 6 months pregnant with her son. Her and Patrick knew they were having a boy and they already named him Patrick Joseph Dickinson. Their daughter Erin was 8 years old at the time and just thought her daddy was on a business trip. My sister is a very spiritual person and has even become more spiritual since this tragedy has happened, as did most of us who were affected.
My sister gave birth to Patrick on his daddys birthday, December 4, 2001. I was there with my sister when Patrick was born. I cried with both so much joy but yet so much sadness. Patrick at that moment was the fallen angel from God. My sister had a tough time with handling everything. I was there for her each and every day. Every time I held Patrick, I know his daddy was right there with him. I felt him; his presence was there. There were so many things, little things that would happen in the house when no one was in that particular place at that time. For example, a toy would go on, the phone would chirp, the light would flicker. I would look at baby Patrick and tell him Your daddy is here.
The nightmares continued, I dreamt of Patrick many times. Each and every time I went back to my sister and spoke about the dreams, she said how did you know that? I told her that Patrick came to visit me and told me things only you would know. She cried so much, I cried so much. This has been very emotional.
Patrick is now 19 months old on the 4th. Every time I look at him, I love him more each and every day. I always call him my Fallen Angel from God. The amazing thing about Patrick, he always looks up and says dada. When Patrick sees his dads picture, he points and says dada.
My life since this tragedy, hit me very hard financially, emotionally and all around very tough on a daily basis. Making ends meet has been a struggle. I have always been the sole financial provider for my family and I am not that person anymore. I am terrified to go back into the city. I am sending out resumes on a daily basis and being turned down each and every time. I literally do not have any energy left in my body. I am tired all the time, even thought I try to keep myself busy. I use to get on the 4:40am bus every morning and be at the gym in the city at 6:00am every single day for the last 3 years, never missing a day.
I went to therapy for a while after September 11th, I feel I jumped from counselor to counselor until I found the right one who would understand me. I did, her name was Barbara, CPC Behavioral in Freehold NJ. She was wonderful, she understood me, she never questioned me nor did she interrupt me. She let me speak, cry, scream what ever I needed to do, she let me. She broke the news to me that she was leaving. I was very upset, but happy on the other hand. She introduced me to my new counselor, I went to her a couple of times, but it was never the same after that. She was completely different and I did not feel comfortable with her. I stopped going. I have not been back since. It has been a few months now. I know I need to get back, however, being back with my support group is the best thing that happened to me. They are my family, the family that will always be there no matter what. They are the only ones that will understand when you are having a bad day. They put a smile on my face and I feel that that is therapy enough for me. I know I need to go back on medication again, however, it only makes me feel better for a little while and then the depression comes back.
You need to understand the person I really am. I have 2 teenagers who need my attention all the time. I am not an extravagant person, I have never asked for a lot out of life. Everything I have, I worked very hard for. I have worked since I was 13 years old and never had to ask anyone for help, until now.
Thank you for taking the time to read my life in one day.
Memory:Every single thing that happened that day and many days after that is vivid in my mind (as clear as day). Not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened.
Affects:I don't go a day without calling my family and telling them where I am or where I am going - or just to tell them how much I love them. I now work odd jobs just to stay close to home, just in case something were to happen, I would only be a car ride away. I live life to the fullest every day, however with caution.