An hour later, while I organized my last minute preparations for the day's lessons, a plane crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.
As my mentor stood at my door with a phone to her ear, delivering the terrible news, the second tower was hit.
We knew - the world knew - it was not an accident.
In shock, we collected our 5th graders from their electives and attempted to explain the unexplainable.
The rest of the school day passed in a haze of normalcy, in spite of the shock, fear, and sadness that surrounded us.
That evening my best friend and I spent hours in front of the television. Calls came in from our loved ones.
Did you hear the news?
Have you heard from our cousin? I'm so glad she's okay.
Why would someone do something like this?
I cannot believe it.
I lied in bed that night, and for several nights after, shaking with sobs. I envisioned the terror of the victims and the heartbreak of their families left behind. I imagined a line between myself and those trapped under the stone and metal, willing them to hang on. Willing the rescue workers to find them. Right here! I would message.
And I prayed.
For all of them.
Over and over again.
I didn't understand, then, how my life would be affected by the attacks that morning. I had yet to meet my husband; that was another year away. I didn't know that his job - and our lives - would be influenced by that event, every day, for many years to come. But if I had, I would have known that our sacrifice is nothing compared to what others gave that day.
Tonight, when I lie in bed, I will remember the people who lost their lives and their loved ones on September 11 and in the aftermath.
I'll thank God for the survivors.
And I'll pray for the safety of my husband and all those who give of themselves to protect the lives of ordinary Americans. The ones who make today a beautiful day.