Getting on the plane, August 1st, was a bit nerve-wracking. I wanted to get away and not be in NY for at least two weeks. Every year, I expect things to get better, to feel better, but it doesn’t happen. This year, I told my family we would get away to do absolutely nothing. We would spend time together, get silly, go wherever we wanted to, eat what we wanted to and beat our own music on our own drum.
That sounded amazing. And it was a pretty excellent time we had.
But you cannot escape September 11th, 2001, no matter how far away you run.
As I was reading my book, a gentleman noticed my tattoo and asked, “Is that a meaning for something in particular or is it just a favorite quote?”
And so it began.
The reason for my tattoo.
“Where you there? Really?”
“Yes sir, I was. I was a recovery worker, but I was the wife of a NYPD officer who responded that day to Ground Zero.”
“What? Seriously? I’ve always wanted to go to NY to see the memorial but may I ask you a few questions?”
Now mind you… I wanted to get away from all that but there is something inside of me that pushes me outside of that hiding spot and always, always, says “Yes, sure, of course.”
The story telling began. Then the family wanted to meet us. Then they told their friends and each day we were at the pool, someone else approached us.
You can’t run away.
I’m counting the days till that one nightmare comes to visit with me each year. It is always the same:
Standing on a pile, surrounded by smoke, I’m yelling at no one in particular but as loud as I can yell, “Go away. Go home. Don’t come to work today. Please, stay away.”And then I look around me and realize it’s too late. They came to work and I didn’t get to them on time.
And each year, I go to bed thinking – will I wake up tomorrow and know that this was all a bad bad dream?
Our vacation went well, no nightmares, no sadness but no sleep.
Watching my frail husband getting in and out of the pool made me want to scream at the world – “WHY? All he did was try to save people! WHY? All he did was protect and serve! WHY? Why is he sick? Why is he disappearing from me little by little?
I didn’t ask myself those questions when I got sick. Not sure why. I guess seeing someone you love change right in front of you is different. The reality is different. And now…
Now he wants to move. He wants to go places. He wants to sit with us and watch television as he fights to stay awake. Now he wants to do it all and we join him because these will be our memories one day.
We met a woman whose husband was at Ground Zero. (See, you can’t escape it.) He has emphysema. She didn’t know about the WTC clinics and that she could get help for her husband. He came from North Carolina.
And so it began…
“Have you heard of John Feal and the Fealgood Foundation? Have you heard of John Stewart? Look them up. You will find all the information you need to get your husband the help he needs.”
And so it continues….
9/11 just doesn’t end for us.
May all who witnessed 9/11, May all who came to help, May all who lost a loved one on 9/11 know that you are in my thoughts and prayers these next few weeks. You are not forgotten. We may have never met but we are connected because of this tragedy. May you find peace in all that you do. May you smile a little bit each day. May you laugh or giggle for a few minutes each day. May those that share your pain know that they are not alone either. And may one day, all of us find the peace we have been searching for, for sixteen years.
You are loved.