Category Archives: 9/11

Long time gone…

I haven’t written in here since May. I said I was going to take June, July and August away from writing. I’ve missed it and while I have had a lot to say, the words were escaping me. It seems my inner voice has been a bit battered as of late. I wanted to write on September 11th, the way I always do. I couldn’t. I couldn’t even bring myself to honor the people lost on that day because I have been utterly swallowed by my depression lately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had reasons to laugh in the past three months. Lots of reasons. There were a lot of fantastic things that happened over the summer. There were also horrible things, like my trip to Israel. There was pain, rejection, loss of connection and the annual celebration of the day I was torn via C-section from Esther’s pristine uterus.

44 years old. Happy birthday to me. Another day closer to death. The way I figure it, I am probably halfway to dead by now. If the average woman lives until 88 years of age, I am dangling on the halfway point this year. I did a quick assessment to see if I am anywhere near where I wanted to be at this age. The answer was a resounding…perhaps.

I’m a grandmother to two beautiful babies. I am married to the most amazing man to roam the earth since Christ himself…if you believe in that shit. My children are thriving in their lives. My daughter is happily married and a fantastic mother to those to babies I mentioned. My son just started his first year of high school at a brand new school and loves it. I am on decent terms with Esther. My dad is well, not healthy, but well enough for now. So those things are amazing and incredible and perfect.

But where am I? I’m not really any where. I am clean of my drug addiction for well over a year now. I gave up my nursing license and now, in retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I realized how miserable nursing made me and how it contributed to my depression. Whoever tells you that nurses get to help and heal patients, well, they obviously never worked in long term care. You don’t get to do any of those things. You get to shove pills into their incoherent slack-jawed mouths and then onto the next. There is no comfort. There is no care. There is no time to sit at a bedside holding a hand. All that bullshit you see on soap operas…it’s a fantasy. A fairytale that surrounds the beautiful myth of the nurse. At least it is in that setting.

So, back to school I went. Off to get my degree in Social Work. I decided I want to go for my Masters in Social Work and Human Services. Why? Because I need to hold that hand. I need to bring that comfort. I need to smile into pained and troubled faces. It does them good. Selfishly, it does me good. I decided that I am going to be an interventionist and work with addicts. Does it scare me? Definitely. I am scared shit to be around those who are using actively again…but now that I have been there and by the blessing of my Higher Power, found my way back…I feel this is the path I am destined to walk.

I love being in school because it is something I am good at. I am an “A” student, a perfect 4.0 GPA. The professors love me, they always embrace the returning adult students more than the new, fresh out of high school kids. They know we care a lot more and are a bit more hard pressed for time. There is no room for us to fail. We don’t have the opportunity to fail because we don’t have the time. The money. The lack of desire. Our grown up hearts are on fire to do something, anything relevant with the time we have left, however much that might be.

The way I figure it, I will walk out with my degree in 2 more years from now. 46 years old. Still enough time to begin a life, still enough time to put in about 30 years worth of employment.

I ain’t quite dead yet.

But in the interim, I am suffering. I have stopped taking all my psych meds. I just don’t want anything to do with them any more. And, it has its good moments and bad ones. I don’t feel fucked in the head any more. I have my memory back. My sense of humor has returned and it is whip cracking sharp the way it used to be. On the flip side, I cry at the drop of a hat. I fall into depressions very easily. And, my old friend insomnia has returned to fight me nightly. And while the bottles of Cymbalta, Lamictal, Buspar, Xanax, Geodon, Ativan, Klonopin and Trazodone all look tempting…I mainly find myself having staring contests with them. They dare me to open them and to indulge. And the temptation is always there. But, I don’t. I could. Nothing wrong with taking one now and again when needed, but I feel like one will be death of me. Just one pill will open up a can of worms for me. I can’t revisit the days of bottle dependency.

I keep them all over the house. Some on my desk. A few in my purse. More on my bedroom dresser. They stare at me and say, c’mon CP, let us take the edge off. And me, I scoff and say “no, let me empower myself, dammit”. “But you have a disease,” they retort. “You need us.” And that may very well be, but I want to try to go this alone. I want to feel like myself at every possible moment I can, however fleeting it might be. For those few hours, life is so perfect.

Then, the depression comes back, wraps me up in its itchy wool blanket and says, “No, no Dear. You don’t get to make the decisions around here. We do. Me…me and all your pills. Come down the rabbit hole, CP. It’s not that long of a drop.”

But it is. I’ve taken the trip before. For the five minutes I jump into the deep end, it requires a lot of swimming to get out of the murky waters again and I simply don’t have the energy to do it over and over again.

I’ll probably be writing more frequently now, but not daily. Just when I need to…like in the beginning. And tonight, I needed this to be here, like an old friend with open arms letting me fall into them and just cry. Let it all out, rubbing my hair til I fall mercifully asleep.

I need this.

Where were you…

on September 11th, 2001?

Perhaps you were home, getting ready for work. Maybe taking the kids to school? Or, like me, were you already at work?

I think there are very few people in the United States that cannot remember where they were on that fateful day. Some of you were actually in New York City when the atrocity took place. Others, like myself, call New York City home despite living 1200 miles away. I grew up in New York City, born and raised in Queens and Manhattan. I lived on 14th street and Riverside Drive, right across the street from the park. It was an amazing place to live, rich with culture and excitement.

When I was just 8 years old, my biological father, Stephen, took me to the World Trade Center, shortly after they were erected. He had an office there. I helped him paint the walls of his office at the stock brokerage firm where he worked. And while I made more of a mess than I did help, it was a memory that was locked in time and preserved within the walls of the Trade Center. It was always a part of me, long after my father was killed in a car accident. It was a place I could return to that made me remember that innocent time of my childhood.

That place is gone forever.

I remember getting up and having the hotband drive me to work that morning. I worked in Downtown Tampa at the time. I was in the middle of a surgery when my husband called the office where I worked. He said it was urgent. My heart pounded rapidly, thinking there was something wrong with the kids.

“Babe,” he said. “I’m at Best Buy. Something terrible has happened.”

“What? What happened? Are the kids okay?”

“The kids are fine. The Twin Towers are under attack. Airplanes. They used airplanes to crash into the building. The north tower, I think.”

“Oh my God, honey,” he said. “Another plane went into the second building. Babe, we are being attacked. Someone is attacking New York!”

I held my breath. My parents. My brother. My aunts and uncles. They all live in close proximity to the city. My uncle was on 2nd avenue with a view of the Towers from his window. Are they safe? My mind was racing.

“The tower, babe,” he continued. “It collapsed! It’s laying in a heap on the ground. Baby, people are throwing themselves out of windows from the 74th floor!”

Time stood still. How could that building collapse? I didn’t understand. Even if a plane crashed into it, how could that mighty structure fall to the ground? I was confused, shaken. People choosing to fall to their death rather than succumbing to the blazing fires. I was sickened.

“Come back, baby,” I pleaded. “Come back to my office. Please!”

I ran into the surgical room and told the Doctor what was going on. He instructed us to turn on the television that was in the room. We turned it on just in time to see the second tower collapsing. I turned pale, ran into the bathroom and threw my guts up. This is when we started hearing about the other planes. Flight 93 that crashed into a field somewhere up North…the other plane that rammed into the Pentagon. The details were sketchy at the time, but one thing was for sure.

This was no coincidence. We were at war. We were under attack.

For the next 72 hours, I was glued to the telvision set. I couldn’t reach my family in New York. Phone lines were down or busy due to a heavy congestion of calls. I cried so much in those 72 hours. I remember the husband and I fell asleep in front of the television, waking up only moments later to be met with those horrific photos and live film of the airplanes hitting the towers. No one knew what the death toll was at that point, but it was believed to be in the thousands. The buildings were too volatile to start a rescue mission. At this point, it would be a recovery mission. Every time another person was found, it made CNN. We would rejoice, another life spared. I still couldn’t reach my family. They were still unaccounted for.

The devastation reached my home in Florida and was brought right to my front door. It was now inside my home and there was nothing I could do about it. Helpless. That was the feeling that loomed in my heart and mind. I was helpless to do anything about this. We waited for our President to decide what would be done in retaliation, to find out who was responsible for this heinous crime. We looked to Mayor Giuliani to guide us through this tragic event. What do we do? Where do we begin?

It took a years time, perhaps longer for the wreckage to be cleared. My husband and I went to Ground Zero and paid our respects to those who were lost on that fateful day. I cried, heavily and mourned the loss of all the lost souls in the buildings, on the planes and for all the families who had been destroyed. I loved the fact that everywhere you looked, there were American flags being raised. People had them on the cars, on the houses, in the windows of their stores. It said “We will never forget” and it made my heart swell with pride. We were rebounding in the face of tragedy. We were coming together as one. One community, no more racial lines or distinctions. We were all Americans going through this together.

It is eight years later.

The flags are gone. 9/11 is just another day for most people now. Sure, it’s sad in retrospect, but what can we do? Life has to go on. We have work, school and the rigors of daily life to distract us. Sure, we think about the day and recall it, perhaps even reflect upon it. Some don’t remember it at all. Just another day.

It begs the question, are we alright now? Have we healed? Are we safer now, or simply biding our time until the next attack? Are we still holding our breath with wonder or has time resolved it for us?

In my heart, in my head, there will never be enough healing. The people responsible for this transgression have yet to be caught. Instead, we have taken out our aggression and frustration on another country. We are engaged in a pointless and senseless war, bringing more frustration to the American people and more devastation to a country that didn’t ask for our help. We needed to lash out at someone and Iraq was just as good a place as any. We felt good about it at first. Yes, retribution for the crimes committed upon us. But now, do we still feel so good about it? Why are we still there? Saddam Hussein is dead and our children are still overseas, fighting a battle that was won a long time ago.

We are still losing children in the name of September 11th, 2001.

This is why the memory cannot fade. We are not finished yet. It won’t be over until our men and women come home. The point has been made. We will not tolerate terrorism in any form ever again. This is the last time these acts will be perpetrated upon us. There will be no more retaliation or retribution. We are Americans and we are tired of the battle. Weary, in fact.

In essence, we are over it.

Still, I imagine that there isn’t a soul alive who cannot remember where they were and what they were doing on that fateful Tuesday morning. I recall it as clearly as I recall the birth of my two children. I cannot forget. I won’t forget. We can’t forget. Not ever.

I ask each of you to take the time to reflect upon that day and know that those people did not die in vain. The flags have gone away. The memories must survive. They were heros, all of them…the survivors as well as the victims.

They don’t deserve to be forgotten. Ever.