Fighting the Blues with Love

Maybe it’s because my favorite season is drawing to a close, or perhaps it’s the looming allergies of fall, but I usually have a big case of the blues in September.  Most people love this time of year – crisper weather, the prospect of New England’s leaf colors, apple picking, and maybe even the advent of the school year.  I feel the opposite.  It’s like a little death for me when summer ends.  Couple that emotion with the recent anniversary of that horrific day 10 years ago when thousands of innocent people lost their lives, and you have a recipe for major blues.  I’m from NY, so there were people in the towers that I knew.  I cried for all those deceased, their families, and myself this week.  In retrospect, it might not have been a good idea for me to read two books with deeply sad themes, Sarah’s Key and Room, at this tender time, but they are book club selections, so I read them anyway.  By doing that I just may have unwisely tipped the scales of the appropriate amount of grief intake, making it just too hard to absorb so much at once.

The night of September 11th, 2011 I lay awake at 2 a.m. thinking about loss and all its incarnations: in addition to the grief of our nation, I lost my brother a year and a half ago to a heart attack.  Due to recent unpleasant events, I lost a relationship with a formerly close friend.   Last week a lovely woman therapist we greatly admired, and sometimes consulted, lost her battle with cancer.  All this sorrow came crashing around me like discordant music, creating a clenching feeling in my heart.  As I lay there quietly sobbing, a Barred Owl hooted her haunting bark-like hoot somewhere in our woods, breaking through the noise in my head.  I slid over to my sleeping husband and pulled his arms around me.  He must have felt my shoulders heaving because he held me close and stroked my hair.  His warmth and gentleness eased my pain, and I became acutely aware of the comfort of human contact, of love.

I am not prone to dwell on the negative, or to allow myself a lengthy pity party, but sometimes too much is, well, too much.  So, having had a good cry, I awoke the following day exhausted, but renewed in my commitment to love and comfort others as well as myself.  Each of us is undoubtedly and indelibly affected by 9/11’s tragedy, and life is always throwing us curveballs, so in the face of that reality, I embrace today with my heart open and my arms ready.  Loving human contact, kind words, thoughtful gestures – these are the keys to a good life.   When I watched the History Channel’s show called “102 Minutes That Changed America” I was struck by the humanity of those around Ground Zero as the horror unfolded.  Brave doesn’t begin to describe these people.  They are my inspiration as I move through my sadness – their goodness, caring and selflessness are my goals today.  Love is the answer.  One day at a time, one person at a time.

All You Need is Love

-The Beatles

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

-1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

 

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September 11th, 2011

 

9/11

 

Every year on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the usual jubilant New York City takes a more understated tone. New Yorkers are more cordial to each other… the usually mad rushing commuter now slows down their pace. A smile or friendly nod you would not normally see happens to greet you today. The citizens of New York all seem to be friends on this day and unite to pay respect to the unimaginable horrors that still play fresh in a lot of people’s minds. I did not live in New York on 9/11 but I have been here for seven anniversaries and was at Ground Zero on the six month anniversary. I was working as a freelance Field Producer for my old television station. Dust and debris still littered the streets of Battery Park and the gaping hole in the New York skyline was still shocking to see. I think if you asked anyone about September 11th, they will have a story for you. Ask a New Yorker, you will hear stories of getting home after the attack with the fuel smell haunting the air or how the next several days after didn’t feel real. For me, I have a friend who stays home every 9/11 to mourn her lost fiancé. The man who she calls her one true love. Or a coworker who tells the story of repeatedly calling not only a colleague but friend on that fateful day because it looked like his floor had been hit. Even the stories of the firemen who went to too many funerals to count. New York is a different city now. You are constantly warned about being vigilant of a terrorist attack. If you see something, say something. Employers have escape routes, emergency bags and off-site locations for employees to go. Life in Manhattan is moving cautiously forward. Ground Zero will soon no longer be a construction zone but home to a memorial and the Freedom Tower. From Starbucks employees to the Wall Street big wig, New Yorkers pitched in to help pickup the pieces and not forget September 11th but survive it. On this day it doesn’t matter what our job is or how much money you make, we are all proud to say we live in New York City and for me, God Bless America.

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What Were You Doing September 11th, 2001?

It’s always strange how a tragic event can sear into your mind exactly what you were doing at a particular time.  In some cases people even remember what they were wearing and what smells were around them.  On any other given day, you probably would not even think about what you were doing at 9am EST on 9/11/01.

I remember my mom telling me that she was in a biology class in college when the announcements were made over the loud speaker that JFK had been shot.  I remember coming out of a ride at Disney World with my family and my dad saying,”Look kids!  There’s the shuttle take-off.  Wait, that doesn’t look right.”  Then back in the hotel room we saw everything unfold up close with the Challenger explosion on TV.  I was at a picnic with friends when we heard about Princess Diana’s car crash and death.  A TV was brought out on the lawn to watch the events.

So, where were you on September 11th, 2001?  Well, I was a teacher in Oklahoma, and strangely enough I was at a science in-service with other teachers learning about our science kits on “flight.”  We were making paper airplanes an using different amounts of papers clips and other items as weights to see if it changed our planes flight paths and/or distances.  Teachers had to attend these 1/2 day in-services for every different science kit before teaching them to students.

As we were being told to see who could fly their plane the farthest and who could hit the wall on the other side of the room, the principal came in to the library and stared at us lined up with our airplanes.  Her face looked panicked.  She said, “I wasn’t sure if I should disturb the in-service or not, but anyone that has friends or family in NYC or DC might want to know that some tragic events are happening.”  My heart sank.  I felt sick.  Yes, my entire family and husband’s family happened to be in the DC area where we both grew up.  I knew my sister was scheduled that morning to have an interview in Crystal City near downtown DC.

I raised my hand.  Other teachers looked around too.  Learning about this science kit was no longer important.  Everyone wanted to know what was going on.  The principal decided to just bring in a TV to watch the coverage of the events.  We were still supposed to be doing what we needed, but everyone was too upset to continue.  Once the TV stated that, “America was definitely under attack,” we were released to go home early to try and get in touch with our loved ones.

When I walked into my apartment where my husband was sitting and watching the coverage, he told me the towers had just fallen.  We watched it over and over again on the news.  We tried to contact people back home, but with the number of calls going around we were unable to connect for a long time.  We finally found out everyone we knew happened to be safe.  That was a relief to hear, but we were both in shock and felt sorrow for those who were directly affected by people losing their lives.  At this point we both realized that life as we knew it would be changing forever.

What were you going September 11th, 2001?  Share below in the comment box.  I’m sure you remember!

Kristin Wheeler

Reflections of September 11th..

With the recent turn of events these past few days and with all of the images of Osama Bin Laden and September 11th flooding back to all of us, it is important to think of what we lost that fateful day and cherish what we still have.  All of us can remember as clearly as if it were only yesterday where we were and what we were doing when we heard the horrific news.   For me, it was only until I returned home from work that evening that I actually saw the images on the television screen.   I remember picking up my twoyearold son right out of his bed while he was still sound asleep and just holding him for hours.  
 
There was an overwhelming feeling around the Country during that time to try to find a way to help or contribute in any way possible.   I turned to my emotions and a pen and paper and began to write.  I had been writing poetry since I was young, and had used that as an outlet to help me get through some of the greatest and worst moments in my life.  The words seemed to flow out of me and onto the paper, and within a halfhour, my poem was finished.  I turned on my computer and immediately emailed a copy of the poem to Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  I think I speak for so many of us when I say that Mayor Giuliani was such a reassuring and comforting force during that time, when all of America was in a sheer state of panic.   I wanted to be able to reach out to him and thank him in the only way I knew how to at that point in time.
 
About a week had past, when I turned my computer on to check my email as I did every day, and could not believe my eyes when I saw a response from Mayor Giuliani in my inbox.   I honestly sat there in a state of shock for about five minutes before even opening up the email to read it.   His email kindly thanked me for the poem, but it was this sentence that brought immediate tears to my eyes and will forever be a part of me for the rest of my life.  His last sentence read….. “I will be placing your poem onto the wall with the people who still remain missing.”    
 
During a time such as this, when we are all seeing the images and reliving the horrible moments of September 11th all over again, I would like to share the poem that I wrote over nine years ago: 
 
 
This is written to a City so special….
A City which stands for the USA….
Nothing will ever make us forget….
That horrific September 11th day….
 
A Part of you was taken from us….
A part that could never be replaced…..
Your majestic presence will forever have….
An impact on the world and in our hearts, an empty space…..
 
With our melting pot of communities….
On that fateful day, we have become one….
To continue to fight together for our freedom…..
For those terrorists will wish this fight they had never begun….
 
For they do not know who they are against…
Our Nation is something so unified and so great….
With our hearts glowing and our flags flying….
Osama Bin Laden…. You just wait….
 
Our Firefighters and Police Officers….
You are America’s Heroes, it is so true….
You make us proud to be Americans..
You should know the Nation is in awe and in love with you…..
 
For New York, we fight for you….
Nothing could ever bring this Country down….
We stand for everything that is right with the world…
With our Statute of Liberty in her American gown….
 
For the terrorists pulled down our buildings….
But our people we are the glue…
We will put this Country back together again….
For we love this land…. THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE…
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