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911ghostlightssmall.jpgI went back finally. I walked through Battery Park for the first time since I lost my memory there on 9/11.
I remember nothing from right after the first building fell around 9:30 a.m., until 1:30 p.m., when an emergency worker asked me if I needed help and I said I guessed I did. My dog, Sammy, and I were taken to a hospital in Jersey City via ferry and then an ambulance. When we got on the ferry, my brave, beautiful golden dog, who led me away from the disaster so confidently, crawled onto my lap and every fiber of his enormous body shook for the next twenty minutes. I never thought they’d let me bring a 90-pound Lab into the hospital, but when we got out of the ambulance, they were so happy to see survivors that they welcomed us with open arms and even gave Sammy sandwiches and ice cream.
“I’m ok,” I insisted. “Take care of the people who are hurt.” Late that night, we left the hospital to begin a complicated journey that included homelessness, mercury poisoning, a couple of bouts of “atypical pneumonia,” and three years of treatment for PTSD.
I’m fine almost all the time now. Still hyper-aware of sirens going by when nobody else seems to pay them any mind. Still dislike days when the sky is bright blue and completely cloudless. That’s a 9/11 sky. My eyes always seem to be drawn to clocks precisely at 9:11. Tonight, the time between 9:10 and 9:12 seemed like hours.
So when I went back to the park in July, I thought I’d remember more. But instead it was like a movie in slow motion, and it was surreal.
One memory came back last year – of how I got the woman’s slip that I carried with me for months. It floated into my outstretched hands as the wind brought it from a jumper. I’m sorry, so very sorry to that woman’s family. Because I couldn’t remember how I got it, and I eventually threw the slip away. I didn’t realize then that it might have had DNA that could have given her family closure.
Today, I’d like to honor that woman’s memory and send love to the people who miss her. I can’t remember, but I do understand.
Photo: 9/11 ghost lights, seen tonight, from Soho in a cloudy sky
On 9/11, for the boys