In the midst of the rememberence of the horrific anniversery of 9-11 I want to share the story of my day five years ago. I was working as a social worker on an adolescent psychiatric unit outside Chicago.It was a glorious morning, the sky was unbelievably blue. My girls were 5 and 7 months old and I had dropped them at day care. I was listening to Howard Stern who was talking to someone who wanted to fix him up. It was the usual Howard Stern Show. I walked into the lobby of the hospital where outpatients wait for aapoinments. There was a television on and they were showing the first tower in flames and unsure of what had happened. As the cameras rolled the second plane hit. I ran up to the unit and most of my coworkers were unaware of what was happening, I told people what I saw and we ran to the TV. The kids were having their breakfast. I remember commenting to one of the mental health workers that the buildings would always be a target for crazies trying to make a point. The staff and I watched as the tower fell and we contacted the medical director and the unit manager. We realized that this was a defining moment that people would talk about like where they were when it happened. We had about 12 or 15 inpatients and we thought about the story they would tell about where they were on this day that the world changed. We reached a decision that we would view the TV footage with the kids and start to talk about what was happening. Some how I wound up being the one to do this. The kids were staggeringly unaware of the world. When we talked about who might have done this they were painfully unaware of who the enemies of the US might be. Kids asked if it was Europe or London. I tried to say that though we had no knowledge at this time it was more likely an act of terrorism from an arab terror group. It was really sad to think that these troubled kids would live in a changed world with no knowledge of history or politics.
The day was a daze. I was lucky to get ahold of the few friends and family I had in NYC and they were all safe. I spoke to my husband. At some point I left work, and remember picking the kids up. I didn't realize that I had kept an afternoon dental appointment until I got the bill weeks later. My 5 year old had been told at school that bad people had blown up the buildings. I was upset that she had been told befor I had a chance to think about what to tell her. My baby was blessedly unaware. My husband and the kids and I went to Ruth's Chris and ate large slabs of meat and drank bourbon. At one point I was on the floor looking for a binky that had fallen and was greeted by the parents of a teen I had recently placed in residential treatment. I was barely sober. We got back home and watched the kids sleep and the TV through the night. Everytime I woke up during the night I would see the footage and realize that it really happened. My husband and I were so sad to think that this was the world our children would inherit from us. I realize that this rememberence is small, and meaningless in the face of what other families experienced. My heart aches for the kids on that unit who may one day realize that their problems were small in the face of the suffering in the world and my heart breaks when I think of the families that lost people they loved. I recall reading about a man who continued to feed his child the breastmilk that his wife had lovingly frozen before her death on 9-11 and remember the profiles incourage published by the NY Times. The losses are ripples on a pond that reverberate. The people whose lives were touched by those who died, and the lives that could never be touched in that way. My rabbi, Irwin Kula, came from New York for the High Hollidays and he sang in traditional melodies the texts of the messages people left for their loved ones and we wept. We sang G-d Bless America in Yiddish and for the first time in my life I felt truly American. I grieve all of these losses and really pray for peace.