Brooklyn ….Memorial Day Weekend 2010 Surrounded by Family, Friends….!
The conversations were heartwarming, diversified and comedic. My husband even had one of the guests prank phone call our daughter asking her just one more time “Is it All about Trendz” a jewelry store in Manhattan that we all could not get straight in our heads. Maybe it was the sun or the wine or just both. We laughed so hard we could not breathe as our daughter called us all jerks and hung up for the third time!
My husband’s family have their roots in Brooklyn so many of the guests were from “The Neighborhood” and there was a lot of reminiscing. Our cousin Big Art joined in and the conversations ranged from how his hearing became impaired by the gunshots that were fired by his ears during his career as a NYC Transit cop to the POW bracelet he wears on his wrist.
We all examined the copper looking piece and discussed the names and inscriptions. Big Art can appear to be rough and tumble but is in fact a kind and deeply caring man. The bracelet has been worn by him since the late 60’s. The POW represented on the bracelet was dated as missing since 1965. My husband, myself and a few others recalled our grammar school years during the Vietnam War there were many bracelets worn with names inscribed representing men serving and missing in Vietnam. Upon further inspection we became aware of another name inscribed more recently. Big Art explained it was one of “His” that perished 9/11. We all fell silent out of respect for the fallen. My heart was silently breaking for him. Big Art is immersed in taking care of “His own” meaning the families of the 9/11 fallen. He is extremely proactive in preserving the memories of the men and honoring them. Big Art, although retired for many years was one of the first responders arriving at the BIG Hole and piles of rubble hoping to rescue any survivors.
All of us briefly flashed back at the mention of the fallen man represented on Big Art’s bracelet to that day of horrifying tragedy, loss and uncertainty. My mind flooded with the images of the second plane hitting the second tower and then both towers imploding shortly thereafter!
My husband and I had the longest phone call that day since he was blessed with one of the only working telephone lines. He was awaiting his assignment from the Hospital he works for. There were thousands of body bags arriving throughout the city hospitals and all were bracing for a rising death toll and injuries galore. He was mandated to stay and work for however long it took to take care of the injured. Phone service in NYC was at a minimum if any, so I was the conduit from the hospital staff to family members informing them of their loved ones safety. We kept the line open for hours as I dialed on my cell phone and even put the cell phone to the receiver so people could connect and be comforted by the sound of the live voices.
Hours went by and finally my husband said we had to free the line. I was deeply troubled since I did not know if this was going to be the last time I would ever hear his voice. I became immobilized and kept repeating myself in an effort to keep him on the line. Hanging up with him was like letting go of a drowning man. I told myself I had to keep it together since we have 3 children and if I looked worried they would be worried. I left them in school while all this was going on because I needed to collect myself to present to them a calm, confident mother.
Our drive home from Brooklyn brought us right past the World Trade Center site. I usually do everything I can to avoid that whole area and today of all days we HAD to pass by because of Holland Tunnel traffic. This time I forced myself to face the Big Hole and the beginnings of rebuilding.
Our friends James and Shea were snoozing in the back of the Van unaware that they were in the presence of a sacred ground. All of my senses became heightened and I became acutely aware of utterances, murmurings and physical pain just being in close proximity to this tragic parcel of land.
I feel sad and guilty at the same time. Sad for all the loss that is still being felt throughout our surrounding area and guilty because I was not in the midst of the first responders.
I want to do something of significance in remembrance of all those that were lost in the 9/11 attacks.
This Memorial Day let us remember the Men, Women and Children that have FALLEN on our own Soil.