9-11

911MemorialMuseum

 

Today is the anniversary of one of the most horrible tragedies our nation has suffered and hopefully the worst that I will have to witness in my lifetime.  It’s almost unimaginable to think that 13 years have gone by since that cool, crisp September morning when NYC was under attack and I had to run for cover.  Thankfully, back then, I was healthy and could run and walk on my own. I often wonder what would have happened to me that morning if I had to rely on the kindness of others to protect me.

Many people were saved that morning because of the help of fire fighters, ambulance workers, police men and just plain old every day goodhearted citizens, but thousands of others weren’t so lucky and many of the ones that didn’t perish that morning were damaged emotionally  in ways that others can’t even imagine.

I won’t relive that morning, as I did it in my post on my blog a year ago, but I still felt it needed mention.  As a result of that day, many, many, many people’s lives were effected and unfortunately changed for the worse.  I know 2 people who worked in the towers and managed to escape and I know 1 person who was downtown that morning working in another building, and like me had to run for cover.  This last person is the one who emotionally has suffered the most and since that day, has never been the same.

Why is it that she has suffered the worst, when she hadn’t worked in the WTC.  We all saw horrific things that morning if we were by the Towers, but why is it that some of us have recovered emotionally and others haven’t.  To me this has to do with our mindset as we approached the day.

After witnessing the horrible events of that day, we all were in shock, and it took all of us time to process what had happened, to grieve for the people who lost there lives and the ones that lost their loved ones and then to heal.  But some people don’t heal, why?

Since 9-11, we’ve learned a lot about the brain and about suffering.  Trauma disrupts the balance of feeling, memory and decision-making in our brain and all these parts need time and care to come back into balance. Research has shown that even in the face of unimaginable tragedy and despite the fact that we will always remember what happened, emotional balance for many victims can return to normal within 2 years. This is a great cause for hope.  But what about the people whose brains don’t return to normal within 2 years, is there still hope for them?   We’ve also learned over the course of the last 13 years that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, affects not just the immediate victims of violence,  but also bystanders and witnesses.

In order to heal and recover, we must face our inner wounds and choose to fight them.  The alternative is to deny them, but then our suffering will continue and the healing process will be delayed.

My friend is working very hard to fight her inner wounds, but they are very deep and very severe, and unfortunately after 13 years, they are still there.  She has been crying since yesterday for the life she lost and for the person that never returned home from work the same.  I hope she is able to slay her demons (or at least tame them) this year and that the next time 9-11 rolls around on the calendar, it doesn’t have such a hold on her.

 

In loving memory…..

September111

Today is a very tough day for our nation, but especially tough for us New Yorkers who personally experienced the tragic events of 9/11/01. I was one of these New Yorkers. I woke up that beautiful morning 12 years ago and headed to my job, a block from the WTC towers. Unfortunately I never made it up to my office as the first plane struck prior to me exiting the subway.

I remember the details of that morning, as if it were yesterday, and I have a feeling it will always be like that. The subway line I was on, stopped at Brooklyn Bridge and went no farther. All passengers where thrown off the train with no explanation. I walked up the subway steps and looked up in the sky and was in direct view of the WTC tower that had already been hit. All I could see was some smoke around the tower and thought to myself how strange that was to have such billowing smoke so high in the sky.

Unaware of what had happened, I continued to make my way south to my office location, but the city felt weird, very weird. Pieces of paper were flying like confetti and there was alot of chatter and groups of people gathering on corners talking with each other and looking upwards to the towers. I still had no idea and walked a few more blocks, until I heard the loudest explosion and almost got trampeled to death. People were running wildly to take cover and I was swept up in this stampede and was literally pushed to safety by the crowds. We stood between two office buildings on Liberty Street, waiting for things to settle down, yet none of us knew what was occurring.

Once things did quiet down, we slowly emerged and could see dust, furniture, papers, office equipment flying through the air and as I looked directly up at the sky, I saw something that will never leave my mind… I saw people jumping from the WTC and still couldn’t understand what was going on. I had about 5 blocks to go before I arrived at my office and I continued on because I was desperately looking to find someone I knew who could explain these events to me.

I finally arrived at my office and people were running out of the building. I was not allowed upstairs and finally an elevator filled with people I worked with emptied into to lobby and they told me we are under attack. Two planes hit the WTC and a third is likely headed for Washington, DC. We were all advised to leave the area quickly and get to our home destination. But with all the subways closed down, this would not be easy for most people. I luckily lived in NYC at the time and was strong and healthy enough to walk the 6 miles home.

I started the walk uptown, with people I worked with and the crowds got bigger as we walked further north. I was scared, as were so many other people, but unlike many other people I did not remain downtown and managed to get home just as the towers began to fall. Two friends came over and we went to a local restaurant and sat there all day, with hundreds of other people, watching in disbelief as the events of the day unfolded.

Every New Yorker has a story about that morning and the months that followed, as life in NY did not get back to normal for a very, very long time. National Guards; armoured tanks; trains with bomb sniffing dogs; checkpoint locations under bridges for buses with possible bombs; air filled with a stench that was death; smoke rising from the ashes of the WTC; and a dark, dark dust that had settled over the city.

I did not lose a loved one that day, but I do know people who did. I also know people who survived working in the towers and others who experienced things that changed their lives forever.

So today, I will not think about my pain or my illness or my suffering, I will be thinking of all those people who vanished in an instant and did not have a chance to finish their lives or to say good bye to their loved ones. You are forever in our hearts and minds.