We went to the 9/11 memorial. I have avoided going for many reasons. This was my third trip to NYC in a year and I couldn’t bring myself to see the site where America was changed forever by terrorists. When those faithful towers fell I didn’t personally know anyone that was lost there and I barely knew anyone in the military and what the fall of those towers would eventually mean for them. I had the sinking feeling that because of 9/11 our country would soon be at war but I had no idea how it would impact me.
That morning I and all the other caregivers were feeling anxious. While I knew it would be emotional, I also knew I needed to go. I felt it was my duty to pay my respects and see for my own eyes what directly impacted every American at that time and still does today, ten years later. Those terrorists are the reason my husband went to war and why he eventually would be blown-up by a terrorist.
We took the bus to the site. We were running a bit behind schedule and the bus driver was rushing to get us there. He got on the PA system and said he just found out that he was taking wives of wounded soldiers to the memorial and he said he was a veteran as well. We all started clapping for him. That is when my anxiety started to creep up. I felt it in every fiber of my body. I assumed I knew what impact it would have on me but didn’t truly know until I walked inside the museum.
There was a wall of faces and missing persons flyers. These families were offering rewards for their loved ones to be found. The faces were of those that died at the hands of terrorists. There were pieces of the planes and towers. There was a constant video reel playing that told the stories of those that had suffered because of this attack. My heart started to ache. I could feel emptiness in my bones. I felt like I could vomit and I was choking back the huge lump in my throat. I wandered off alone. I couldn’t see the other wives. It would be too painful.
I walked to the basement and started to look at little children’s drawings of the planes sidelining the towers. I read letters from all over the world from people who wrote what they felt on 9/11. I turned around and there was my dear friend with tears streaming down her face. She looked just as gutted as I felt. I grabbed her and we sobbed for a minute together. I look over and my other friend’s eyes were the most crystal blue and tears were streaming down her face. I wanted to run away. It felt too heavy.
We decided to get out of there before our allotted time was up. We stood outside looking at the freedom towers that were being built around the place where the World Trade Center fell. There was nothing really to say to each other. A huge red truck pulled up with the American flag and POW/MIA flag waved in the back and it was blaring God Bless America. I had a rush of chills run up my spine as that song always brings me to tears.
We walked over to the giant hole in the ground that is now two sets of beautiful fountains. There was a massive fence to my right with all kinds of excavators still trying to clean up the mess that the towers made when they fell. I almost didn’t want to look at it. I felt like a voyeur staring at the massive gravesite of so many. It felt like hallowed ground to walk on as I know so many lost their family members there. I sent up a silent prayer to those who will always suffer because of that day.
The fountains were undeniably beautiful and breathtaking. I tried my hardest to get a beautiful picture but it doesn’t really do it justice. The glowing names of those perished were inscribed on the wall surrounding the fountains. I read them as I passed by and tried to envision what they were like based on their names.
When the tour was over I felt relieved that I went. I think I needed to see it for some kind of peace and closure. I am thankful that I got to see it with many other wives that were suffering the loss of our husbands at the hands of terrorists and war. I know my husband will never be able to go to NYC, the streets are too busy and loud. But, I am blessed with the opportunity to go and share my losses with those that understand. I will never forget.
After spending my afternoon thinking about the families that lost so much because of 9/11 I got an email from a widow whose husband was a firefighter near ground zero. I had posted on twitter about a new program for veterans suffering with PTSD at Holliswood Hospital in NY. She happens to have started the yoga program with this program at Holliswood and felt compelled to email me. We started emailing back and forth and realized that I stood where her husband’s fire station was, Engine 10 Ladder 10.
It was like it was meant for us to talk. I found comfort in knowing how her family is doing ten years later and how she used her tragedy to help families dealing with combat PTSD. What a blessing to be able to connect with her and personally thank her for all that she sacrificed on the day that changed America.