Counting down to Ground Zero
The “funk” has begun. It always creeps up on me, disguising itself as a simmering sub-dural hum from the August week we return from Maine until it manifests as an undeniable migraine when I find myself screaming WTF! I return to the realization that I have, once again, lost full control of my emotions and rational reactions to everyday situations and succumbed to the fugacious vices of my private lament amidst the currents of a national remembrance campaign that is becoming as remote a concept to iGen neo-digitals as snapchat would be to the baby boomers who whose lives were vaporized that day. Reflection and journaling become my anodyne. From the weeks marking summer’s end with her long, loose, fair weather sun-lit days and backyard barbecues to autumn’s cool crisp nights and simmering stews, I am reminded of those final blissful days leading up (or is it down) to the end of Eden. September’s mourn is my inescapable truth. That I am another year from “normal”. My solar arc has drifted interminably from my mortal eclipse and I descend into a catabolic reclusion caught in an inverted time frame. I find that there is a natural human tendency to replay the series of moments leading to the final end of a loved-one’s life, whether anticipated or sudden. Below are some of mine.
From August 18 to 25th, we spent our third year on Great Pond, ME with Dave’s family and our camp friends. We extended our vacation for two more days of fun and adventure in Plymouth Mass, returning home across the Long Island Sound via the New London/Orient Point ferry on a warm sunny morning, then spending a pleasant afternoon among street artists, riding an antique carousel and feasting on a fantastic seafood supper in the North Fork town of Greenport. In the week to follow, David and I returned to our careers. Labor Day weekend offered us one more extended weekend to play, so I packed the gold Chrysler Voyager for a weekend at our favorite place, David’s childhood home with his parents in Wappinger’s Falls, NY. Here he enjoyed his Mom’s Japanese curry, paella and toasted mochi cakes floating in sweet red bean soup and wrapped in toasted nori.
He visited with his childhood friends and took his final ride on the Wellcraft bow rider we kept there, racing up and down the Hudson, visiting our favorite light house and attempting to teach the boys how to water ski.
I have a striking memory of leaning back at the stern, arms outstretched, feeling adrift in a timeless moment of divine awareness. David, strong at the helm, racing against the wind, the blackish water surging with glistening caps and our two little boys bracing the bucking bow with guttural squeals of delight. I thought of my own mother who met an early death at 38 following a lifetime battle with mental illness and cancer, who could never have dreamed of such a moment for herself. I thought; How wonderful it is to be here, in this life we have made. On Monday we were informed that our sick cat had died as we returned to Freeport. The 4th to the 7th was spent working and checking off the class supplies lists for the boy’s start of pre-k and third grade for which they anticipated with great excitement. We met with our financial planner on the 5th to discuss creating our will and tying up IRA and disability insurance investments. We joined the little league teams on the 8th for an awards picnic at Cow Meadow Park, after which we enjoyed a final sunset in the surf and sand at nearby Jones Beach. On Sunday, September 9th, we visited with most of my extended family for a backyard barbecue at my cousin’s home in Shoreham. I was looking forward to a new career move in the coming week which included writing bilingual emerging language children’s books and further building my private practice as a direct provider with the county. We slipped into routine-mode on the tenth, with David returning to work and his job hunt and our 8 year old bounding onto the school bus for third grade. This Monday he was working at GHI in midtown, an unusual switch with his job with Marsh & McLennan at one World Trade Center where he usually worked Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
Since 9/11, a continuous cacophony of media reports, notifications of anniversary event planning and legal updates fill my electronic and postal mail boxes from July through September. Friends and acquaintances inquire of my plans for the anniversary. Strangers who make my introduction cannot resist the opportunity to share their personal “this is what I was doing, or my nephew was going to school in NYC at the time, or my friend volunteered to help in disaster recovery and had to quit their day job to re-invent themselves on a tropical island” stories. Everyone has a story that begs to be told and my disclosure in a classroom, on a ship in the North Sea or on a wooded path in VT, draws them forth.
This sixteenth anniversary year is bookmarked by our annual August pilgrimage to Maine unfolding into my quasi-adult offspring returning to college (at NYU), ripened garden tomatoes dropping underfoot and crafting logistics with family and friends for our remembrance plans. No matter how we choose to honor David in any year, the public events marking the collective anniversary of the murder of my beloved husband, my sons’ father, Richard’s brother, Hiro and Stanley’s son and the loved ones of 2,976 other civilians whose similar fate were live-streamed for the world to gasp (and in some cases cheer) cannot be dismissed.
I was born in October under the seventh zodiac on the cusp of the eighth and fall had always been my renaissance, finding peace and serenity in the cooling thermals, leading me to orange dotted pumpkin fields stretched along a narrow byway parting pebble beaches with long Indian names and New York island farmlands with corn mazes and pie stands. Joan Didion wrote: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live. We also tell ourselves stories in order not to die. And at any moment these stories can change.” In a 1400 sqft house set on a sandy island jutting forth into the Atlantic, twenty-five miles east of New York City, the moment found me.
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