My friend Rosa and I talked about the weekend as I settled into work in the Port Authority offices on the 64th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center. Rosa was the same age as me, 31, and we loved catching each other up on our lives. My boyfriend, Roger, and I planned to get married . . . someday. But there would be plenty of time for that.

I was born and raised in Trinidad and came to New York to make a better life for myself and my loved ones. If things like marriage had to wait, so be it. I left behind a lot of my old ways of thinking in Trinidad, especially when it came to God. “God” was something I’d always said I believed in—more to make my mother happy than anything else. Was God more than that? Maybe. But when Mom died of cancer in 1999, I wondered where God was. He was certainly nothing I could see or touch—nothing that had anything real to do with my life or my feelings.

All that was about to change. As Rosa and I talked, there was a massive explosion somewhere above us. The entire building rocked from side to side. “What was that?” Rosa asked. “An earthquake?”

We rushed to join a group of people over by the windows. Papers and bits of debris drifted down from above, like a weird kind of confetti. An announcement came over the PA telling us to stay put, not to panic. But most of the people ignored it. They rushed toward the elevators.

In minutes the office was empty except for 15 of us who had decided to heed the announcement and stay. We assembled around the television in the conference room and stared in disbelief at the picture of thick, black smoke coming from the top of our building.

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