So far in my 41 years of existence, there are three moments that will always be imprinted in my mind. I remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing when they occurred.
1.) January 28th, 1986 – The Challenger Space Shuttle blew up.
I was 11 years old and we were watching the launch of the shuttle in our classroom. There was a ton of excitement for us all because watching tv in our class was rare and seeing the huge tv cart get rolled in was a big deal. The teachers were excited because of a fellow teacher that was taking her first trip to space, representing teachers everywhere. I recall counting down loudly in a new years eve style as the shuttle launched, watching it begin it’s flight and then being hit with my first real sense that things can go horribly wrong in a matter of moments. We watched in shock as the shuttle exploded. I will never forget.
2.) September 11th, 2001 – The day the Twin Towers were destroyed.
I was sleeping in that morning at home, enjoying a day off from work with my at-the-time fiance. My phone started ringing shortly after 9 am and I ignored it. Then as it persisted, I answered to the voice of our mutual friend sounding very somber as he told me to turn on the tv. I remember being annoyed at first as I located my remote and clicked on our local news channel. Then I sat down in complete horror and shock as my brain and eyes tried to process the images that were being shown.
My coworkers were experiencing it from an even more horrific side as we worked for UUNet, as network engineers that supported a huge amount of the Internet connectivity across the globe at that time. Some of them were on the phone with onsite techs doing remote work for us, when suddenly they said they had to go because something was happening in the building but they didn’t know what was going on. Others actually listened as people were starting to scream on the other end of the line. They all watched on the big screen tv’s that monitored all of the critical outages as swiftly one by one, all of the network connectivity went down in that part of New York. They watched the main tv as it broadcasted live, in stunned silence and horror as their eyes and brains processed the very same thing I was while sitting on my bed in my home. I will never forget.
3.) April 21, 2016 – The Day Prince Died.
I was a huge fan of Prince since I first listened to ‘Raspberry Beret’ and ‘Little Red Corvette’. My soul was hit by the real power of music when I heard ‘Purple Rain’ for the first time, and I discovered how deeply moving a song can be. I bought every tape and CD when they came out. For every moment of joy, sadness, love, and real life that I may have been going through at the time – there is always a certain song by Prince that comes on and immediately takes me back to that moment in time. Many times, I would be singing the lyrics, “How can you just leave me standing, alone in a world that’s so cold” with tears running down my face as I tried to heal from yet another betrayal, or lost love. He was a major part of my history.
I was getting into my car after my hair appointment at the salon. I was in a great mood and feeling fantastic after another fun session with my sister-in-law who is amazing at her job as a master hair stylist and colorist. I turned on my car and immediately heard the words streaming from the speakers as the radio DJ said, “We are in complete shock as we have just found out that an Icon of our time, Prince, has passed away at his home this morning. Details have yet to be released as to what has happened, but it has been confirmed that he has died.’ It was the same familiar punch that hits you square in the gut, almost taking your breath away. Then they started playing ‘Purple Rain’ while I proceeded to try and drive home, intermittently sobbing and struggling between feeling foolish that I was this impacted as well as feeling like a major part of my own history was now gone. I will never forget.
I am convinced that moments like this change us on a world-wide scale. When the shuttle exploded, sadness was felt across the world. When almost 3000 people lost their lives on 09/11, a wave of pain, grief, and rage swept across the world. When Prince passed away, the entire world went purple for a few days as we all grieved the loss of true talent.
As today marks 15 years since the horrible tragedy of 09/11, I think it’s safe to say we will never forget as a whole either.
Blessings and Remembering,