03 October 2007


The Sixth Anniversary of the World Trade Center Tragedy
Part Six

On September 11th 2001, while living in New York City I watched the terrorist attack the World Trade Center on television. After an hour, when the numbness and denial faded, an urgency to volunteer swelled within, needing to care for the city the way she comforted me over the years. I would go to her rescue in any way possible and aid the two limbs that had been taken without warning. The Mother of all cities, was herself, crumbling down to the marrow below her streets. The solid bedrock which sprouted two of her tallest beauties, were savagely destroyed---taking with them the many children of her city.

The Twin Towers were akin to California Redwood Trees, only in an urban environment. The destruction of our Redwoods brought about an equal amount of emotion--just as tree-huggers feel watching the electric saw chip and cut away the thick brown skin of natures grandest. The disbelief while watching the calamity brought upon the defenseless, helpless victims---who sat perched on each of the 110 floors as they attempted to fly---becoming One with the towers. Kept the world standing in silence enveloped by a quiet banding together of those experiencing the traumatic event of mass devastation and sadness.

For a brief moment the grief and sorrow had given way to love and peacefulness. It was as though an intertwining between Pearl Harbor and Woodstock had occurred---lifting consciousness with prayers, white candlelight and solidarity. Emerging from the pain and suffering of our forefathers past and present who have fought in those very wars, most, needlessly by sending many to their grave and psychologically maiming others for the rest of their life. It was their history coming forth, and in so doing brought volunteers from across the country and from the foreign lands where those battles were once fought.

The unity had begun. A New World was forming. In the dark of the night as volunteers we worked side by side unloading trucks at the donation center at the Jacob Javits Center. Crews of construction workers and out-of-town cops, women and men, shoulder to shoulder---white collar and blue. All suspended in a new reality. Tied together by the red, white and blue ribbons that were pinned on our breast. A quiet sadness filled our hearts, and a peacefulness flowed from our Spirits---for once, we were all equal. The Hero's that died, united us, in compassion.

Some volunteers slept overnight on the cold sidewalks; the voluntary homeless with make-shift beds made out of newspaper and faded denim jackets, colored bandannas tied around their necks, scuffed yellow-buck work boots fastened at their ankles, pillows of blue plastic hard hats, with rows of white candlelight looming over head on the cement walls. The country was built on the backs of these men, and they were willing to break their backs once again by sleeping on the gray concrete their brothers mixed and poured years before. Even still---they would wake with ease. Then in the early morning hours at Ground Zero they would gather the ruins that were laced with sweat and toil from their forefathers. Which was now soiled with the blood of our beloved---and our enemy. And they would do so lovingly for well over a year.

The financial downturn that occurred in the aftermath of the city lead many New Yorkers to re- evaluate their lives as they knew it. The future of the city was uncertain and my own life took on a gloomy air. People seemed more caring in the weeks after the tragedy but it didn't last. The lack of connectedness takes its toll on you after awhile, you begin to absorb the cement from the sidewalks and the only way to rescue yourself---is to leave.

Hiring freezes happened immediately. The avenues became barren as stores posted "Going Out of Business" banners in the windows. Filled U-Haul trucks peppered the desolate streets as taxi cabs rode empty---a sign people were leaving. The city simply wasn't the same, and neither were the lives that lived within it.

Within four months my trepidation's about leaving became clear when my mother suffered a third stroke. The possible loss of one's mother shifts the order of your priority list. She would be the reason for weaning myself from NYC after 13 years. The magnetic pull of her failing heart brought us to her bedside for six weeks. We stood holding her hands---she was barely able to gaze at us one last time before dying.

She watched September 11th and its effects on her daughter, living long enough to see me come home safely to care for her. Not knowing six months after The World Trade Center tragedy, I'd witness my own tower collapse---my mother. If the survivors of September 11th can go on with the unexpected tragic loss of loved ones in their life---then I can certainly be grateful as I mourn, for the fortunate six weeks I had watching my mother make the transition to death. Breathing her sweet scent, caressing her brow, kissing her motherly hand while gazing at her childlike face and loving eyes one last time---is more than the survivors of September 11th had. I must find the grace in knowing that.

Since then I've observed the loved ones talk about those that have senselessly and suddenly died in The World Trade Center. They spoke of similar characteristics and qualities the deceased possessed: a good person, happy, humorous, a heart of gold willing to do anything for anybody, kind, considerate and loving. It sounded as if God was calling his favorite children, back home..... Maybe, just maybe---they can find peace knowing that.

Copyright September 2001, R. B. STUART. All Rights reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form. Above photo of rock in the sand taken at the beach 2005, "An Angel in The Sand."

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