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9/11-I shall never forget

I didn’t think too much about 9/ll coming up this year, 2011, until a mutual connection of a friend asked me to speak on a panel regarding 9/ll. The panel would speak after a performance of this play called Orange Alert: people’s experiences before, during and after 9/ll. It begins today in NYC and runs through until Sept l8th. I said to the man interviewing me about being on the panel, “oh my story is different, you probably won’t be interesed. I went to live at Ground Zero after the event. There was silence.
He said “most people were running away and you went their to live. That’s amazing”

My oldest son, along with his girlfriend and her young son survived 9/ll. They were headed into the direction of the World Trade Center at around 8:40AM when they realized that a crowd of people were running towards them away from the buildings. My son later said to me “mom, we saw things that no one should see in their lifetime.” I didn’t hear from him until l2 noon that day. I had no idea whether he was alive or dead. The next day, I took a train into the City from NJ, where I was living at the time. I was the only one on the train and when I got out into the streets of NYC there was no one. But I headed straight to where my son and his girlfriend worked. I just wanted to hold them, touch them, and know they were really alive.

It got me thinking about the 7 years I lived there. 9/ll changed the course of my entire life. I had no plans of living there, I was going to move back to NYC from central NJ in 2002 to Gramercy Park. That’s where I belonged, but then the real estate broker, who was a friend of mine, told me about the apartments in Ground Zero and would I take a look at some of them. I did and then to my surprise I received what I can only refer to as a “calling” to move down there and help heal the community and the neighborhoods. And that is what I did. I became friends with the gardner, Richard, of City Hall Park. Richard takes care of 8 acres around City Hall Park and I learned so much from him about what was in the garden from 9/ll and about The Memorial Grove at City Hall Park, where 6 or 7 trees that survived the attack at the WTC were replanted in this Memorial Garden alongside trees that survived the Oklahoma bombing. I call this place the Green Cathedral.

While living downtown I became an interfaith minister and part of a vibrant community called Tribeca Spiritual Center, headed by my dear friend, Rev. William Grant. My other dear friend, Rev. Salima, was the other interfaith minister that was part of this dynamic trio. We would give services to the community every other Sunday within the doors of The Hallmark Senior Residence located in Battery Park. TSC was originally located in Manhattan Community College, but after the event, TSC lost its space, because the school was so badly damaged, so they met on street corners, helped their neighbors organize, met in the Bubble Lounge and eventually were asked to be in The Hallmark Senior Residence.

One year I gave a service in The Memorial Grove a/k/a The Green Cathedral. I wanted to give a memorial service around things that survived and thrived after 9/ll and I wanted to be around those trees that were replanted there. Many of us cried and hugged those trees in gratefulness that something like that had survived such an ugly and evil event.

I also began working with the seniors who lived on the 2nd floor of The Hallmark. These people had Dementia and Alzheimers. I had never worked with this segment of the population before, but I jumped right in. I managed to connect with a music therapist at The Jewish Hospital for The Aging on W. l06th Street, and was invited to participate in a music session with folks who had dementia and Alzheimers. I will never forget seeing a man humped over in his wheelchair appearing lifeless and when he heard the music he began humming the tune and he came alive. I learned that to work with this segment of the population we would sing songs together, see photographs of people, places and things, and have visitors come in from all over NYC and even Scotland to sing to these people about their lives. This was a part of their brain that worked and they came alive.

I also did healing work while I was there. I have many skills and one of which is being a publicist. So I took my publicity skills and booked my healing teacher, Dr. Peter Levine, the creator of Somatic Experiencing, and began booking him on radio and tv interviews so he could help people deal with the trauma. He would give them first aid for trauma such as telling them not to watch too much tv, stay away from the radio, be around people you love. Simple things, but things we need to be told when we are suffering from trauma. A group of us also setup a trauma hotline right after the event. It was for anyone that was in trouble and needed help.

So the gentlemen that asked me to be part of the panel really opened up for me how my life changed when I went to live at Ground Zero. I will never forget.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at 6:09 am and is filed under 9/11, Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “9/11-I shall never forget”

  1. Sharon Goldstone Says:

    I just came across this blog as I have been trying to find someone with connections at The Hallmark in Battery Park. I was in the lobby of Tower 1 when the first plane hit. I worked at Embassy Suites Hotel and ended up at The Hallmark with a hotel guest in a wheelchair seconds before Tower 1 fell. We were there all day with the residents, some fire and police set up a small command center there. I have been trying to find out a way to connect with the fire company as I can not remember. I was looking for any stories/interviews from residents as well. I currently live in Sioux Falls, SD – but if there is a way you could help me connect with the person who wrote this piece, I would be so grateful. I have my story to share with them. Please contact me via email noted.

    Warmest regards,
    Sharon Goldstone

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