Overwhelming

Yesterday was a tough day for me, but I know worse for many. The 13th anniversary of such horrific loss as 9/11. I lived across from the World Trade Center in Battery Park City for years. I had moved out soon before, but not willingly. I loved living in Manhattan, but with three children, it had become hard to afford. We had such a vibrant community tucked on the water, an esplanade and parks galore at our doorsteps and the World Financial Center and Trade Center were our rainy day indoor stomping grounds. Great friendships and a really nice family community were a truly special part of the enclave. Stolen nights away from young ones were spent across the street at the Marriott in the Trade Center, while my mom watched them. Our view from the apartment was a glorious corner of trade center and north city views with the Hudson River to the left.

My family and I had just been down there Sunday the 9th, for a child’s birthday party. I so missed my friends and neighborhood. I was lamenting the decision to move out to the suburbs, trying to guilt my husband into the possibility we had made a poor decision by leaving. Just two days later a piece of fuselage incinerated the inside of my old bedroom.

I was already in a panic before it happened. I was rushing to the hospital the morning of 9/11, I had gotten a call my father had collapsed at his pulmonary exercise class and was being rushed by ambulance, with no idea how he even was, as I headed out. My husband called me on my cell, very disturbed, telling me, that he had just seen a plane hit into the side of the building. I didn’t want to believe him, it seemed so improbable. I told him to head home. I called a dear friend from the old hood right after to ask if she was ok, as we were speaking, she watched and screamed in terror as the second plane was coming in, we were cut off the moment it hit, taking out the cell connection from the top of the tower. So many people I loved were there in the midst of hell, and I could do nothing but pray and hope, make sure my dad was alright for the moment, than rush home to get my kids from kindergarten and preschool to be safe with me. As the second building went down, I watched a mom from preschool collapse to the ground in front of me knowing her husband was gone. It was all so terrible, and I was in shock.

I lost two close friends that day amongst all the victims, but knew many others. My old neighborhood was decimated and my family and friends living and working there, were in pure survival mode. My husband did not get home for an excruciating and harrowing 16 hours. It wasn’t just an iconic symbol of America to me, but a home where I had worked and my kids played and read books in the Borders book store with an incredible tree inside the children’s section on the ground level of the Trade Center, where I walked my dog and let her off leash to run around when it was quiet at night. It was gone.

There were plenty of moms and dads and nannies and young ones at home in Battery Park City when this happened. I had breakfast this morning, post practice, with my sweet friend I had been on the phone with as the nightmarish events played out. She and I were reminiscing some of it as the day just brings it flooding back to the surface. She didn’t realize she and her younger son were part of the footage in a short documentary, The Boat Lift. It’s how they escaped. She’s an amazing woman, resilient and was crying and laughing about her bossiness in getting people on to the boats, saving not just their lungs from the thickness of the death and debris in the air but possibly their lives. Her older son, just five was in kindergarten in Brooklyn, his dad walked across the bridge to get him and until he saw his mom, that poor innocent boy thought she was dead. It’s most definitely worth watching if you are capable. My husband still can not watch any footage, it just brings too much of the emotions of everything he went though.

Here is the film.

Like so many, my friends were homeless afterwards. Months and months of hotel and temporary housing, before they could go back and pick up the pieces. Though the acts of terror, murder, and destruction hold much in memory, there were also countless acts of courage and kindness that day and in the weeks and months that followed.

I feel guilty even wanting to mention my yoga practice in the midst of this, and in all honesty, it was hard to practice today, even, with a rare opportunity to do led intermediate with Sharath, more so than yesterday. On top of this background of samskaras, I had dinner last night with two childhood friends, one is fighting brain cancer right now, while the other is watching her mom suffer through the last stages of COPD. It’s sometimes only possible to just offer love and and ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. Life can change in a flash for any of us.

It was my very first Led intermediate. My nerves were a bit shattered and this was nerve cleansing to a count. I decided to dedicate my energy to my sick friend. I had no expectations of success or failure, just trying. Eddie Stern stopped me before my normal end of pinchu, at bakasana b…I dragged my left big toe jumping into it. It was fine. I was overwhelmed from my own PTSD of 9/11 and how I was feeling about the awful illnesses my friends had thrust upon them as well as the backlash of not normally drinking, yet having more cocktails than usual as I hadn’t wanted to squash my friends imbibing with my nerdy teetotaler yogi ways. Watching the rest of it until joining back in for closing was amazing. I was emotional afterwards, not because I was stopped, but because of everything else. As I’ve processed it more, I’m just impressed I made it through the back-bending sequence and kapo in one attempt (only reaching my toes) without losing my breath completely, as there were no extra pauses. It was my best for today and that’s all any of us can ever do. As for tomorrow? Who knows, but I’ll try again.

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