I just returned from a four-day trip to New York. What a city it is! If I was asked to describe it in one word, that word would be “indescribable,” or “alive”, or “BIG”. Okay, okay, so that’s three words, but New York deserves at least that many. It’s a world all its own, and yet, it encompasses the whole world within its massive city limits. People from every corner of every nation on Earth reside there, and you can see it, hear it and smell it on each street and avenue of that glorious town. I talked to people from Ecuador, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Russia, and quite a few native New Yorkers, and they were all warm and wonderful, and only to glad to talk to me and answer my many questions. Those who were immigrants candidly told me how they felt about living there verses their native countries. They told me how they felt about our politics, our freedoms, and our culture. They proudly told me about their families, their children and grandchildren. And they could all clearly recall EXACTLY where they were on 9/11. These strangers shared with me how it has changed them, who they lost, who they helped, who helped them, and what they saw, heard and felt. As they told me, I could see their stories in their eyes; the pain, the fear, the sorrow, and the pride of the people in New York who banded together to help each other through the darkest night.
My husband and I went to the new World Trade Center, and the surrounding memorials – yes, memorials plural. You see, New Yorkers don’t just build one memorial; they build a whole system of memorials. There are several buildings (with more being added), at the site of Ground Zero, standing in reverent homage to the memory of the thousands lost, and the thousand more who were heroes trying to save as many as they could. My husband and I stood there gazing into the inverted fountains at the site of the two towers that went down, and I couldn’t help but notice how quiet everyone around us was. It was as though they felt the need to respect those who had perished by standing there in quiet reflection, and as I looked around at the faces of the visitors, it was clear to see how deeply affected everyone still was by that hour in time that reshaped our lives permanently. As we touched the engraved names of those who were lost on that clear and brilliantly bright September morning, I thought about how each name belonged to someone’s mother or father, husband, wife or sister, child, and on and on. We lost so much with each of them, people from all over, including Ecuador, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Russia, and New York, too, of course.
We’re all in this thing together, this life of ours, and all things considered, I’m very glad that we are. Meeting our cabbie, David, from Russia, and Abdulzeezee, from Afghanistan, were two of the highlights of my trip, as was interacting with those amazingly resilient New Yorkers. Together they sure make up one BIG, beautiful, indescribable town, and I’m grateful for that tiny moment in time I could be with each of them. God bless them all.