By B.L. Ochman
The time from when the first plane hit, until the first building fell is clear to me as if it happened this morning. But, besides my sensory memory, I don’t remember anything about the hours between the collapse of the first building and the time I was brought to a hospital in New Jersey.
At the end of the day, I had a woman’s slip, and no idea how I got it.
I was sick with pneumonia and mercury poisoning, and still dazed when, a couple of weeks later, I threw the slip away, still not sure how it ended up in my backpack.
Then one day, came the memory of reaching up to catch a slip – silk, I think – that floated right into my upstretched hands after it was blown off a woman as she jumped from the flaming tower three blocks north.
But it occurred to me yesterday, when I saw this plaque on a bench on Central Park, that, maybe, if I’d saved that slip, one of the families would have had something that belonged to their dead sister, wife, or daughter.
I apologize to that woman’s family.
Fragments of my lost memory have returned in flashbacks brought on by certain sounds, or smells, or days with a bright blue cloudless sky, like today. Five years later, I still have the World Trade Center cough to remind me, as if ever I’d forget. And I don’t really want the rest of that morning’s memories back. But, oh, how I wish I’d saved that slip.