Life Lessons From September 11th 

TW: September 11th, Death

As a child I was taught to say a prayer every time I heard ambulance sirens. “Nothing good is happening if someone is in the back of an ambulance,” they told me. “Just send a little hope that everyone is ok.” From that day forward, every time I heard the high-pitched whine of an ambulance siren, I stopped to send a little bit of love. 

22 years ago on September 11th, I wrote a new memory of those sirens as I sat in my high school history class just 18 miles from the Pentagon watching legs on stretchers. I was trying to pick out which ones might be my Mom. There were no distinguishing features or things to look for, though. People in the military couldn’t have visible tattoos. They were all wearing the same uniform. 

Earlier that morning, someone asked if I knew the World Trade Towers had been hit by a plane. I had never been to New York City before. I didn’t know just how iconic those towers were to the skyline. I thought very little of it until I heard about that plane hitting the Pentagon where my Mom was working.  

My school went on lockdown. The cell phone towers were down. I tried calling a million times and just kept getting a busy signal as those sirens rang outside school. Hours later, the school day was over and I still hadn’t heard anything. I didn’t know where she was. I don’t know how I passed the time, but I distinctly remember thinking I didn’t know who would take care of me if she didn’t come home that night. She was a single parent. I didn’t even know where my Dad lived. 

Thankfully my counselor allowed a friend’s mother to take me to their home so I could leave the school building. I anxiously waited at their white kitchen table until just before dark when my Mom called. She was coming to get me. That night as I laid in bed, I listened to siren after siren. I repeated prayer after prayer.

Just one night before September 11th, we went to bed early in preparation for school and work, arguing like tomorrow would just be a typical day. Thousands of families went to bed that night, too, in preparation for work, a flight, or a shift, not realizing someone they loved would never come home. In one day, life was never the same. 

The thing I know today that I wasn’t so clear on back then is that every day can change every thing. Every minute has power. Our lives and these days are special. In events that impact so many people, it’s obvious. On the days that feel mundane, it’s easy to forget to cherish the moments. 

Life isn’t guaranteed and these days aren’t worth wasting.  The anniversary of September 11th is an annual reminder that every day is special. A reminder that every night, as I go to sleep in preparation for whatever life will bring tomorrow, to kiss the people (and pups) I love, hug them hard, and not to take the days of my life for granted. 

Weekly Letters

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

%d bloggers like this: