9/11 Stories

Stéphanie Deraîche

I suppose I am just another outsider attempting (through this story) to exorcise the demons that have become a part of my being as a result of the attack on September 11, 2001. I have gone from feeling shocked, to scared, to mad, to sad, and now, as awful as it may seem, I wish I could pretend the whole thing didn’t happen. Guilt has also been a predominant emotion as I live in a complete different country, and yet I still felt threatened. I somehow feel that I haven’t earned that right being a Canadian. At some level, I even feel envious of the American resolve - the way the American people (and particularly New Yorkers) have rallied together is both amazing and inspirational. If anyone knows anything about the language issue in Quebec, you may understand what I mean when I say envious. In the face of a tragedy such at the WTC, what language you speak or are spoken to in a restaurant hardly seems relevant. I wonder if our politicians have realized this.

I was in my car that morning on my way to work and was late, as usual. I begin work at 9:00. I always listen to the radio in my car in an effort to stay abreast of current events. At 9:05 a song was interrupted by the announcement that “John Moore had late breaking news from the news room”. John went on to say that an airplane hit the World Trade Center. Silly me thought a pilot had an epileptic fit at the controls. By the time I parked my car, news of the second hit came through my car radio speakers and I sat frozen in my car, parked in the indoor parking lot of Montreal’s Molson Centre. I was in an awful state, and to add to the drama, there was a demonstration complete with riot police going on directly on the street that I must cross to get to my office. I am a mother of a five-year-old girl and yet I felt like a scared little child myself. I literally wanted to stop right there and cry…..I almost hoped someone would comfort me.

When I got into the elevator of my building it was obvious the banter had begun…...still, I was convinced that when I got off the elevator that morning, I would be delivering the news to the office because nobody listens to the radio in the office. You could imagine my surprise when I found the two board rooms full and the televisions blaring. Executives and support staff gathered in the board rooms and for once, we were all on the same footing. Being as emotional as I am, I chose to stay at my desk, opting for a few glimpses at the TV every once in a while. My mother who works from home was calling me literally every fifteen minutes with an update.

The office took on a very strange feeling that day. One of our own was in New York City that day, and the Senior Lawyer I report to was in Washington.

I didn’t get anything done that day. Instead, I spoke to friends and thought of my daughter and how beautiful and perfect she is….I thought of all the stupid things I ever did out of anger, jealousy, envy…..etc…..

I spent the next week watching and listening to as much news as possible. It was therapeutic.

Eventually, I had to stop tuning in as the stories I was hearing became unbearable…...I cannot fathom losing a loved one in that way….no body, no closure…..it’s as if it’s untrue…...losing a loved one is awful enough…...but losing them without any warning and with nothing to bury…...I just can’t imagine…....



Stéphanie Deraîche
Montreal, Quebec, Canada