Still stumbling thru old files. It was on a day, half a decade after the the fundamental catastrophe, that I started on my present spiritual path. I'm a slow learner. For a long time, I moved with tremendous imprecision. Today I'm almost steady, but still searching. I used to call myself an atheist, a sort of Taoist… now, I'm informed that I am just a Ist. Yam whad'I'yam, as Popeye said, great biblical scholar that his cartoon creator was. A wise man, that Elzie Segar.
Whatever. It is well to remember all the courage and loss of that day, and keep it all safe in our hearts, to do the right thing.
9/11/01, My Cousin, My Brother © Solomon 2006
On 9/11, I was sitting in a meeting in a cozy executive office with a colleague. It was about 9:AM. There was a TV on with the sound off. Over my colleague's shoulder I saw the image of what appeared to be a small plane smash into one of the World Trade Center towers. We turned up the volume to hear the news, but I was interrupted by my cellphone. My Sister was calling from Boston. She said that she had driven our cousin to Logan to board that airplane. Lisa was dead, immolated and smashed, along with 93 other folks, including the hijackers. It was no small aircraft.
I excused myself from the meeting, missing the strike by the second hijacked plane on the South Tower. I moved like a robot. My brain and emotions were frozen. I got in the car and went home to watch the terrible news and let the reality unfold and soak into my marrow, allow it to stew, gestate, evolve. I thought of my many friends who worked in or around the towers as I saw them fall. My heart was crushed.
It was a few days later, when it was possible to communicate with Manhattan, that I learned of the adventure of my friend, Morley, on that miserable day. We had met in college and stayed in touch over now several decades. He is among my chosen Brothers, near as close as blood, quite close in spirit.
Morley is a bigwig at the World Bank. He then mainly worked in Seoul and London. A few days each year, however, he showed up at the NYC office in the WTC. There were about ten employees up on the 100th floor. They had a custom of picking business cards out of an old bowler hat, the kind that British bankers used to wear, and the “winner” got to go across the street to Building #7 to pick up coffee and bagels. On this terrible day, Morley was the lucky winner. All of his co-workers perished in the fire, steel, and ash.
As Morley crossed the street, he heard nothing as the blast of the tower’s entrails gushed from the lobby. It was truly a deafening roar. As he came to his senses, he did detect an strange odor. It was the aroma of hair and wool burning. It was his hair and his fancy suit that was afire. Next to him was the Lebanese fellow (!) who was dishing out bagels and lousy coffee a moment before the immolation. The counter was upended and lying against the shattered rear wall of the deli. The Lebanese guy had shards of glass in his bleeding face, but he was still moving. Morley heard a voice: “Get up! Come with me! Don’t look up and don’t look back!!!” Morley was grabbed by his collar and wrenched off the floor along with the counter guy. It was a cop or somebody in uniform. The back of this guy’s uniform was on fire, but he was on a mission. He saved at least two lives, whoever he was.
My chosen brother did not perish that day. He survived to endure his very poor hairstyle and put on a new suit for the funerals that came after 9/11. No evidence of my cousin’s disaster, other than the video and the airline’s manifest exists, today. Well, I suppose her ashes are buried on that site and some still waft on the wind ‘round the world. My heart is no longer shattered, but it aches at the hate that is in this world.
Hic Finis Est