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9/11--- I Was there...Jane's Sunday Sermon
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9/11---  I Was there...Jane's Sunday Sermon


I live in New York City ten blocks from the Twin Towers.


They were always my guide posts home whenever I was tooling
around New York or flying in from some speaking engagement
or from a trip I was on.


On 9.11, 2001 I awoke to a glorious Fall day in New York City
and, as is my regular routine, I hurried out to my neighborhood
bank at around 8.50 am to make a deposit. The bank is to the
North of me on Broadway. My focus was North as I left
my house.


When I entered the bank, sounds of radios were heard from the
behind the teller gates.


I wondered and looked at the others in line with me.
Radios- in a bank?


I asked what happened and was told that a plane had
crashed into the Twin Towers.


There were only a handful of us in the bank-maybe 10 or 15
when the doors opened and all of us walked backed out onto
the street as if being drawn there by forces not in our
control.


From our stance on Broadway we looked up at the Twin
Towers, still standing tall at the time, and stood
transfixed as if our feet were planted in the concrete
while billowing smoke poured from the building to our
South.


No one spoke. We just stood there with our heads tilted upwards.


Many minutes passed and we just stood there.


I realized that I had my deposit envelope in hand, but
still transfixed on the black smoke, I tucked the envelope
securely back in my pocketbook  and continued to watch
with fellow early bank risers.


Finally, I started back towards my loft located just
a couple of blocks south of the bank.


As I walked, a thunderous crackling make me stop and look
up again and like the looped video I was soon to see
over and over again on TV, a plane crashed into the Twin
Towers. At the time I thought I was reliving time
and that somehow CNN was showing me the plane crash
that the radios talked about in the bank.

 

I began to run.


I felt like I was in some grade B movie where flames
and loud noises surrounded me without end and, that
if I did not get into my house soon, the world would
open up and swallow me up and I would end up in china


I could barely breathe as I ran home.


Safely inside, I stopped to catch my breath, checked
quickly to see that all of my dogs and cats were fine
They were not.


They were huddled here and there all under something.


One was under my piano, tucked securely behind a
guitar I store there. Another was on my bed under
a pillow. Still another had caged himself into a
pile of socks on one of my closet shelves
.

These were not their ordinary habitats.


The phone was ringing and ringing but that was
background noise to me.


I didn't answer. I was transfixed on the TV as newscasters
seemed at a loss for words to describe what they were
seeing and hearing.


I watched as the loops of one plane crashed into
the North Tower. I watched as the loops of the second
plane crashed into the South Tower. The first I had
missed on the street. The second I had seen.


Suddenly, I realized I did not know where all of my
family was. I picked up the phone and dialed
frantically to make sure each was in their usual
place. They were or so I thought.


My Dad was on the West side drive heading up to
our country home and had seen the impact of plane
one and had stopped to pull over to the side of the road
and saw the second plane making its way down the
Hudson River. He was a pilot and had his radio
tuned to the air channel flight patterns. He knew
something was out of joint even before the second
plane reached it fiery destination.


Mom was at home with the TV on.
My sister was headed over there.


They were safe.


At 10.45 my bell rang loudly- almost frantically
It was my cousin, John, a lawyer, who worked
right near the Twin Towers.


He came upstairs and, when he entered my home, he
was covered from head to toe in grey dust. His
already grey hair was layered in more grey and
he looked like a ghost from another world


"John," I whispered. "Are you alright?


I was sure that if I spoke in ordinary tones
he would dematerialize in front to my eyes.


" I have to use the phone. He answered
in a shaky voice. " BK's sister is
an AA flight attendant and was scheduled
to fly out of Boston today"


"oh no, John, No" I said in a louder voice.


He was already on the phone.


My bell rang again.


Another cousin. Richard, arrived with the same
ghost like appearance needing to use the phone.


I felt helpless. There were my two cousins covered
from head to toe from war zone like encounters
from nearby downtown trying to verify if people they
knew were alive or dead.


John gave thumbs up to me.


His sister in law was not on the AA fligh t 11 that
charged into the North tower at 8.45 am.


Richard was still trying to locate friends in the area.

At 11.00 AM, my bell rang again


This time it was my hairdresser, Nel.


"Nel" I said in disbelief. "Don't you know
we are under a terrorist attack?"


" Yes I know" She replied and then started to
quote the post office motto.


Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor terror attacks shall
keep me from my appointed rounds".


Well...that's novel! I thought.


I left John and Richard to their appointed rounds trying
to locate their loved ones and friends and had my
hair done all the while watching as CNN kept looping
the plane crashes and the towers cascading down one
after the other.


For weeks after, I would look out my window onto
a barren street with no cars and no people and
think of my ghost like cousins entering my home
on 9/11 and wonder if New York had not, in fact,
dematerialized.


For weeks my windows had to remain closed as the
overwhelming stench and heavy air would filter in
when they were opened making it almost impossible
to breathe.


I wondered to myself as I closed the window
how did anyone make it out alive that day.


It was not until many days later that I learned
that two of my neighbors and friends of my
parents had, indeed, perished in the World
Trade Center.


My Dad died one week after 9.11 of a massive
heart attack or maybe just a broken heart
.

I was there at when 9.11 happened.


It is seared in my memory.


To this day the deposit slip that went to the bank
that day with me and then back onto the street that
day and bore witness to an unimaginable crime
remains in a drawer, un-deposited.


Perhaps I will try to deposit it someday when our
country truly comes to terms with the meaning of 9/11.


When 9.11 is remembered not as an excuse to spew hate
and gin up fear but as a vehicle for unity of purpose.


Yesterday, we saw a glimmer of that as two first ladies,
one present and one past, took the stage at the outdoor
cemetery of 9.11 in Pennsylvania and talked about the
real meaning of 9.11 and unity of purpose-each in their
quiet but very forceful ways.


I began to envision a day when I could, indeed, deposit
that 9.11 money into the bank.

 

We shall see.


Jane


Jane Mark
Sokule Inc.
http://sokule.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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