8 Years & 50 Weeks

Date:                           September 5, 2010


Location:                    Plattekill, NY





            It was about 8 years and 50 weeks ago I wrote the following:


September 18, 2001    1700   


            When we started this adventure I had great plans to keep my journal and record the experiences that I was about to live.  I was quite sure that I would be entering a place in my personal growth and soul’s center that I had never ventured.  I was sure that this was going to be a time in my life that I would want to have recorded so that I could return and read my thoughts and through that endeavor refresh my memory.  I have made two major mistakes in that thought process.  First I will never have to be reminded of my experience, for it is forever emblazoned in my heart, soul and mind.  I am afraid that some of the experience that I might want to hide away in the darker corners of my mind will also for ever be a part of my life as I breath in and out from this moment forward and quite probably carried over into whatever next life I have in store for my soul.  The second mistake that I made was that I would have the energy and creative juices available to make this moment of reflection and personal communication possible on a consistent daily basis.  Having said all of that Let me attempt to catch up on some of the facts.


            We arrived in NYC on Friday the 14th of September for a chance to share rush hour with all of the people that were attempting to enter New York City.  I am sure that the traffic was not as bad as it could have been considering the fact that some of the tunnels and bridges were still closed due to security measure.  There were still enough cars, trucks, busses and idiots on the highway to make me very glad that we had a driver for our buss and I was not responsible for navigating the narrow, crowed streets.  Serendipity and I are still thanking God that we were not forced to try to find a hotel right in the middle of the theater district on Manhattan Island on a Friday morning.  The ride down in the bus was somewhat uneventful except for the simple fact that the heater did not work and we were all in a moving refrigerator.  It was cozy, because we all had to cuddle to stay warm.  It is a good thing that Connie was setting next to me or I might have been in real trouble.  By the way, maybe I don’t want the hot water baseboard heating system in my new motorhome.  It doesn’t work for squat in a Prevost.


            We arrived at our hotel a little after 8:00 in the morning.  We were informed that we were supposed to go to work at 8:00.  So much for a light day, checking in to our room, or unpacking.  We were immediately thrown to the lions and experienced the real life version of On the Job Training.  Connie and I were assigned to the escort, greeting, and guide area of this operation.  We met family members and friends of employees that had worked in the twin towers above the 93rd floor in the building that the second airliner crashed into at about the 91st through the 94th floors.  Need I explain the anguish that they were feeling, or the reality that they will soon have to accept?  Connie and I worked in the escort center until nearly 10pm that first day, both helping the families that we could and helping the group get set up and get running.  We came here to work and as long as we can stand we want to be actively involved in providing what help we could to whom ever we could offer it.


            I have to admit that all is not perfect. I am not sure if it is our fault, Connie’s and mine, or if it is something else.  I am used to being the project manager and I have a style for organizing chaos.  Connie is an organizational genius and we are both feeling somewhat frustrated.  Mostly because we have an enormous amount of energy to expend and we are having a difficult time finding a constructive means to focus it.  We have been told that in this type of deployment that “hurry up and wait” is the rule of the day.  I am sorry, but there is entirely too much to do to ever think about waiting.  “Hurry up” yes, “wait” never.  It took us a day or so of frustration and a willingness to take control of what we could, but I think we have found a way to have something to focus our energies on and we are putting in full busy work days of 12 to 14 hours and feeling much more useful and productive.


            Our main job is to be a person that meats a family member or friend at the door of the Family Assistance Center and help guide them through the process of checking all and any information that might be available about their loved one.  There is a mountain of administrative work, errand running, and general “gofer” work to be completed.  Once we figured out how the system attempts to work we are finding it quite easy to remain highly busy all day long.  We did manage to find in our possession a couple of theater tickets to a Broadway play that just happen to be a block and a half away from our hotel.  So, Connie and I have had a full 2 and half hours of relaxation, and at the time that we received it was, indeed, it was just what the doctor ordered.


            The play was great and our seats were, but, seven rows back from the stage and on the aisle.  The play was a Bob Fossee production of “Chicago”.  It has won six Tony awards and there is no wonder why in a person’s mind after they have had the honor and privilege of seeing the play.  The first song and production number of the play is “All That Jazz” and it gets better from there.  After the play the cast came on stage and out of character to pay their respect and to honor the men of the fire department that serves the theater district.  There are 30 men assigned to the station and 15 were killed attempting to save lives at the World Trade Center on that infamous Tuesday.  They were taking a collection up to take to the station personally.   Pure cash, no red tape, no organization just a delivery from the heart.  It is needles to say that as the cast members stood at the exits, bucket in hand which the audience managed to fill to over flowing, there was not a dry eye to be found.


            As I sat down today to catch up on my journal I had planned to attempt to express my emotions, or at least, my interpretation of my emotions as I finish up my 5th day.  I am finding that I really don’t have the words to even begin to explain the pain and sorrow that fills this one man’s soul.  I can not now, nor will I ever be able to express the pain that these people feel. I know what hurt there is when you lose a loved family member, we have all felt that hell in our lives.  There is a lot more people feeling that anguish in a lot smaller area right now.  But, not any of these people hurt more or less than anyone else has ever suffered before or will suffer in the future.  This is a very public, enormous, devastating catastrophe that we are living through.  But, each person is feeling the very private pain of waking up each day with that burning pain of loneliness centered in his or her heart.  Each person feels that as an individual and in a very personal way.  I can not help them through this, nor should I try. I can learn from this experience and attempt to help this lesson make my life a bit better.  Every day is precious, especially when shared with someone you love.


            I may, someday, understand my feelings enough to place them in words.  I may even want to do that sometime.  I am not at that point yet, neither in ability to do so nor desire to try.  I am at a point in my life where I have a desire to reach out and touch someone.  Help a stranger, and offer my shoulder as a place to lean or cry.  I am at a point that forces me to walk up to a stranger and offer my assistance in any manner that that person deems necessary.  I am also at a point that makes me need to tell my family that I love them, for I am never sure that I will ever again have the chance.  If I tell them too many times, who is the worse for the experience?  I think that I am at the point where I want to live my life from this day on in a “Pay It Forward” mode.  If I do some good for someone, family, friend, or stranger I have planted a seed of love and it will hopefully grow.  If I set out and wait and don’t share my blessing, those seeds will spoil and never find the furtive soul in which they can nurture.  Today I am going to tell someone I love that I do in deed love them, and I am going to hug someone dear to me.  I am also going to help someone that I don’t yet know.  If the good Lord is kind enough to give me one more tomorrow I promise to do the same on that day and every day to follow.  The people at the top of the WTC did not have a tomorrow; they were not guaranteed that gift.  Neither am I.


September 5, 2010     


            I wrote these words nearly nine years ago and as I read them again now it seems but a few moments have passed.  It is a few moments when out country has gone from a single caring entity to a divided, hateful cacophony of political rabble.  It is a few moments that have seen the death of thousands of American young murdered for a cause that still defies explanation only to state that it is for our security and yet we are less secure and certainly less better off in our personal lives.  It has only been a few moments that have filled a less than perfect life time.  I wrote those words nearly nine years go in a saddened state of mind; our country is still very sad.


            I am sure as the infamous anniversary of September 11, 2001 approaches there will be many better written diatribes produced, maybe even by me.  I still wear the shackle of that day on my wrist.  It is an identity bracelet presented to me by a former Special Forces Colonel with tears streaming down his cheeks.  He could not understand the bravery and dedication of simple citizens responding to the possible center of the next world war.  Connie and I could not understand not responding.


            Maybe attitudes will change on there own accord and we, as a country, will return to one union, one caring force for the betterment of everyone.  Maybe that will happen peacefully.  I pray that I will never be in a place where I will be forced to revisit my thoughts, of nine years ago, in real time again.  Until then this is what I was thinking 8 years and about 50 week ago.