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Thunder_2_911.jpgThis is a 9/11 memorial service on Liberty Street, where Rolling Thunder, “a veteran’s organization that rides motorcycles” met today to remember fallen friends and relatives.
New York State Senator Marty Golden made an uninspired speech about dead heroes. A NYC Fire Department chaplain and another official gave tributes. Rolling Thunder supports war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. There I was, with my anti-George Bush button, taking pictures, when I realized several Thunderers were glaring at me in a less than friendly manner. I slipped away and wandered into memorials by a flag-waving, multi-media Fire Truck from Ft. Lee, New Jersey, a group of Mormons, and some Bible thumpers, all congregating on downtown street corners. Street vendors sold flags and hideous disaster tsotchkes that nobody seemed to be buying.
I started the day walking with my dog, Sam, in Central Park, where it looked and felt like a normal Saturday morning. Except it is September 11th and I’m still walking in the shadow of the hole ripped in the sky three years ago today.
Grateful for clouds
I was grateful for clouds this morning. A crystal clear, bright blue 9/11 sky would have been too much. I really thought I was ok, until someone asked me how I was and I burst into tears.
Yes, life has gone on. I can work again and business is good. I share laughs with family and friends, I dance Savoy Lindy four nights a week. But, always, IT lurks. I never know when a sound, a smell or an image will trigger a reaction that will shock, surprise and humble me.
Some days, when the wind blows a certain way, I hear and feel the vibrations of airplanes taking off at LaGuardia Airport, across the river. The wind carries that sound through my body every 10 minutes or so when planes take off. Deafening to me, it lasts a minute or so, and sounds just like the earth-shattering rumble of the buildings falling. The sound and sensation take my breath away. Other people don’t seem to hear it. Then the wind will shift and the sound will disappear.
Red Cross to the Rescue. Again
When I was rendered homeless by the attack, it was the Red Cross who gave me a toothbrush, vouchers to buy clothing, and crisis counseling. So this afternoon I accepted their gracious invitation to “a quiet place to sit and reflect with others seriously affected by 9/11.” I needed to be in a place where it was OK to cry. In a shining example of what the Red Cross does best, there were packages of tissues on every table, along with cookies and juice.
A Red Cross mental health counselor told me that my inability to remember what happened in the hours between counting jumpers, running with thousands of people through the cyclone of smoke and debris as Tower One fell, and getting on a ferry that took me and Sam to a hospital in Jersey City is my mind’s way of protecting itself from the magnitude of the horror I witnessed. I didn’t realize that both buildings fell until several days later. By then, as a result of inhaling massive amounts of toxic smoke, I had pneumonia and Mercury Poisoning, and was peeing blood.
The full memory of the time between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on September 11, 2001 may never return. Or it may come back in fragments like the sudden realization that the woman’s slip I carried around in my backpack for weeks blew into my hands after gravity pulled it off a jumper.
I pray that not only the victims, but someday also the memories, will Rest In Peace.