It snuck up on us, swiftly and stealthy, almost incognito.
Six months to the day Earth stood still, the morning every American stood in awe of cowardice and in disbelief of the horror they watched unfold on television.
I remember walking into Becky's Deli on State Street, my morning hangout in my Pennsylvania hometown. It was 8:40, and Becky, a news junkie, had CNN on as always.
Within minutes, as I was taking the first bite of my bacon and egg sandwich, life as we knew it would change forever.
New York City, only a 1-hour drive away, a place to which many Philadelphians commute to work everyday, was attacked.
And so were our lives.
By mid-afternoon, I found myself in the home of Victor Saracini, the pilot of the plane that crashed into the second tower. The father of two lived about five minutes from me, worked out at the same gym and was a member of the historic church I had recently written about.
I never met him, but still, I wept that day.
Later that day, a township supervisor from my beat called. He said to contact one of his fellow supervisors. Her son worked in the trade center, he said.
Grace's son had called her that morning from his cell phone from the 89th floor in the south tower.
She spoke to him for several minutes.
He told her to turn on the TV. He assured her all was OK, and that his building was not being evacuated.
Minutes later, Grace watched in horror as a second plane plowed into the south tower, just a couple floors away from her son's.
Her phone was immediately flooded with static.
Bill Godshalk died on Sept. 11. He was only 35 and recently engaged.
Another guy I never met.
Another life lost.
The next day, after sleeping about three minutes that night, I went to work at 6 a.m.
I never went to work at 6 a.m.
But on Sept. 12, I had to. I felt safe there, tucked behind my desk, phone glued to my ear, staring blindly at the computer screen.
6:30. The phone rang.
It was Lois, my hometown's secretary and my best source for news. She said Scott Griffith, a guy who sits on several town committees, was in New York the day before and was on his way home.
I reached Griffith on his cell later that afternoon. The guy hadn't exactly had an easy month. His wife, Peggy, died of cancer about two weeks before, and now this.
I didn't know which question to ask first.
I didn't have to.
Griffith spilled his guts.
He was scheduled for a meeting at Trade Center Marriott at 9 a.m. He finished breakfast four blocks away at 8:40, and began his walk toward the trade center.
Within minutes, the 63-year-old was running for his life.
Griffith escaped unharmed physically.
But like the rest of us, he wasn't sure what to make of this attack on our national security.
I spoke with Griffith this week.
"Six months," he said. "It seems like yesterday."
Americans, from Pennsylvania to Montana, still live and breathe the events and aftermath of Sept. 11.
"I wish I could just put it behind me," Griffith said.
So do I, Scott.
So do I.