Imagine the scene: Waking up in a New York City apartment with a view of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and seeing the twin towers fall. In this story, author Paul Ricci describes the confusion and ultimately terror that he shared with a stranger, a friend of a roommate of his then-girlfriend who spent the night in the apartment while on a house hunting trip. Years later, Ricci was moved to figure out who the stranger was, the person with whom he spent several fear-filled hours as the tragedy unfolded. The woman was Libba Alberson, who now lives near Atlanta, Georgia. Ricci had a chance to reconnect with her and talk about their shared experience. “In the end, I didn’t gain any great revelations from my conversation with Libba — no glaring contradictions or gaps in my memory of that morning — but speaking with her felt like finally closing a book that had remained open on a nightstand in my mind for two decades…I am thankful I finally got to know the stranger in that apartment with me and was able to acknowledge how she helped me that day. Not having to go through that hell alone is a gift I will never take for granted.

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