Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer

Visit To 9/11 Memorial In Manhattan, NYC

I am not sure how I got a second wind, but I did. It was a long day, which started out with catching a 9:23 train from New Haven, Connecticut which arrived in Manhattan about two hours later.

I left plenty of time in case the train was late, so I would have time to get from Grand Central Station to Battery Park where the Governors Island ferry is located. It is right next to the location for the Staten Island Ferry. There is a lot of activity in that area.

I was there early, talking to people along the way, asking for directions, striking up conversations with a person on the metro-north train for directions to the subway, enjoying myself. We did not make the one o’clock ferry as my family got there about 8 minutes late.

No problem, we took the next one at two o’clock. We had a good time on Governor’s Island, we enjoyed seeing my son’s artwork, and we walked, played, and sweated (warm and humid), took the ferry back and had dinner, and I walked my daughter in law and my first wife (mother of my children) and the two grandchildren (two and six months old) back to the garage where they had parked.

So, after entertaining my grandchildren switching back and forth between holding my seventeen pound grandson, or my two year old granddaughter (no, I do not have any biceps or chest muscles left…yes…let me rephrase, that they have indeed left and told me to carry on without them, they won’t be back for some time).

And so, I am not sure where the energy came from for a second wind. Maybe I was energized by the entertaining of them. Tired and also energized. Is that possible?

Six blocks before I even got there, to the Memorial, I started crying. I was thinking about that day, about being in Manhattan that day, about being with Emilee that day, about being here NOW for me, for her, for everyone that cannot come to see the memorial, about her seeing the plane go over her head that day as she walked outside of where my class was and the first plane flew in low, was very loud, and made a giant shadow that passed over her head. We were on 19th Street and near 7th Ave. Not that close but not that far.  According to Google, it is 3.0 miles.

You … No… I…felt that I was getting pulled into the fountain and down into the hole in the center where the water was falling into… very… not sure what the words are … feelings… Pulled in, pulled down… almost involuntarily…. Almost against my will … like I was falling…Yessss…falling…like they fell, like the towers fell…yessss…that is how I felt… almost losing control… how they must have felt…

My god… so overwhelmingly sad… so scary… Like the ground was being pulled out from under my feet… so many times as I was walking around and touching the names I kept feeling pulled…pulled in… and I also kept getting upset that tooooooo many people were just having a good time taking pictures and smiling and laughing … and HEY…THIS IS A SOLEMN PLACE…WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU… OVER 3000 PEOPLE DIED HERE… DO YOU NOT GET IT…THIS IS A CEMETERY… SHOW SOME GODDAMN RESPECT… PEOPLE ARE BURIED HERE… SOLEMN…IT IS A SOLEMN PLACE…YOU  NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT… BE SOLEMN…

Ok, ok, ok. Relax Neal… You have your agenda they have theirs… Besides… let it go…don’t let that color your experience.  Not everyone feels the same way you do and besides, I don’t know what they have in their hearts…I can’t tell other people HOW to behave… Yes but… naaaaaaa…let it go…you do your own thing.

And so, I did. I touched each section as best I could…a couple of sections were lined with people…but I touched, I dunked my hand repeatedly into the water that is just under the top with all the engraved names and felt like I was anointing myself in waters that were somehow sacred…that is another feeling…that this place is sacred ground now… with many souls touching my hand as I touched the names etched in the metal and bathed my hand in the sacred water.

They are all cut out in the metal…the names are… So at night when the lights that are under the names are lit, the names can be seen THROUGH the cutouts, the light comes thru all the names… beautiful metaphor… Very emotional … The whole thing…

I met several people…. One dutch woman never been to the U.S. never been out of Holland I don’t think…. Had the most amazing eyes I have seen…ever… huge blue eyes…. I commented to her …on her eyes….   Yes……yes…. I was not filtering my verbalness….. welllll…..yes I was…… a little…. But I was allowing myself to be spontaneous….. I had a conversation with her…. Who here with, how long, where staying, etc…. sweet person, nice human being.

I offered another woman who was crying…some of my tissues  which she accepted….no….not the used ones…….ewwwww….I did not talk to her….other than to say……HERE, do you want these?…and she accepted.

And a few others…. Oh…talked to a man on the way there… from Peru…. Well… a missionary working in Peru….. sounded Australian I think….not sure…. Talked for a few minutes about the boy dying and about faith … he was not proselytizing… I was asking him for directions…and he said he didn’t know … that he was visiting here… and I started a conversation with him too….just for two minutes….. geez, I have this thing lately….of connecting with people… it is a blessing somehow left behind concrete walls meaning since I was maybe 11, and begun again when Em died…when the walls started to crumble…like that day…. I mean it started the day she died….

I have since owned it… I thought it was something that was just that day….or those first few days or weeks…. But I am realizing it is a part of who I am and who I have always been but have been closed off for sooooo many years…that I almost forgot that it is sooooo much a part of who I really am…and I almost lost that piece of me and what a horrible shame that would have been because it is such …..such ……such a beautiful piece of my feeling human.

Yes….human… and special…. Not everyone does what I do…. Not everyone is able to just be in the moment…. NOW…I am not saying I can or want to be that way alllllllll the time…but I can if I want to… and I absolutely love…love…love that about myself… not in an ego way… but I love that part of me…that can be vulnerable and open and risk someone else saying…uhhhhhh… you just crossed my personal boundary and get back… you are toooo close…I do not want to do that but I am loving talking to strangers… Didn’t your mom tell you not to… probably a few hundred or so times… I didn’t always listen…LOL… well I internalized a lot of what she said… But I can amend it… Not tooooo late.

And so…. I struck up conversation with some others throughout the day…some receptive to a comment and some not…but I can let my SPONTANEOUS out…. Which is a breath of fresh air…I can’t dictate the response, I can only be myself…

I told one lady…. And not sure she heard me or didn’t speak English or just ignored me… ooohhhhhhhhh …there are sooooooooooo many attractive women in Manhattan it is ridiculous…after a while it is not so astonishing anymore…ohhhh be real Neal…yes it is…but … I said to one woman… And yes… I need to be careful I do not get shot…I think she was by herself, but she could have been waiting for someone…or her pimp could have been nearby watching.

As I came across the street she was standing on the corner (and no she was NOT that kind of woman) and she had on this long button-down dress shirt, long sleeves, black, and although she probable had on short shorts underneath, you couldn’t see them, all the buttons were buttoned except the top one or two and no, she was not revealing cleavage. I just saw shirt and legs, and she was not overly tall but she was slim…

So she appeared as if wearing only a long dress shirt…and she looked sexy that way… I said… “I may be a dirty old man, but geeez, you look awfully sexy in those clothes” or in that outfit…or some such thing…I don’t remember exactly… NO RESPONSE… Which was a little disappointing…but…I didn’t do it for a response…it would have been nice but totally NOT NECESSARY.

Got tired of all the damn chatter in my head… And needed to say something OUT LOUD… to SOMEONE and not silently or under my breath…and I said to myself after saying that…DO NOT LOOK BACK… no looking back…that will take something away from doing it in the first place… no…don’t you dare turn your head Neal… I know you want to look at her again but don’t you dare…you keep looking forward…yes, I know you want to turn, but do NOT…you will turn into a Pillar of Stone…Look at someone else, just look where you are walking…You should be in my head as I am walking through Manhattan…LOL… maybe not.

Like the Dutch girl… And no… and I did not say she was sexy … Just that her eyes were so big and the most beautiful eyes… which was the truth…I can still see them…and no…I have NO idea what she was wearing…she was not dressed alluringly…or scantily or any such thing. She was just plain out beautiful, strikingly beautiful face, features, unusual eyes. Very unusual. I wish I had asked her what she does for work. Curious. And we started talking.

Wow…Actually, the wow…is just for the stuff that just spewed out of me… stuff in my head from yesterday that I have to compose today… Some of which I just did… Thank you… You got me started… And…

Sorry… I am NOT fleshing out the beginning part of this right this minute(see Post on Musings on grief, Buddhism, emotions, therapy)…the stuff that got lost…I committed the sin of writing in that blog post and not sending when I had a few paragraphs… Very risky to do that…I accidentally hit cancel…thanks to my dainty fingers which are forever hitting the wrong keys…also I was lying in bed..using my cell phone…  so… no one else to blame… I remembered most of it… just not exactly… You got the gist for now.

So… I have a blister on each instep from wearing my crocs…and on my baby toe on the right…all day yesterday without socks… too hot for socks… Not used to walking thaaaaaat much in crocs…even though I live in them. Governors Island where my son is doing an art residency a couple of days a week…painting… and after the ferry back to Manhattan walk to a restaurant… walk while carrying two year old Kennedy who did not want to ride in the stroller after dinner back to the parking garage where they left their car, another ten blocks.

Then walking to the memorial and to some of the buildings around there… I had to put band-aids (yes I had some in my bag….lol…along with first aid stuff… antibiotic cream, cortisone crème…) I was like…..see?????  I was glad I had that with me yesterday… I also figured …with my two-year granddaughter…anything can and does happen…and even though her mom has stuff, can’t hurt to have backup.

Ok… enough for the moment…. You now have another piece of the puzzle that is me…which piece…I have no idea.  You just happen to be the recipient of my rambling musings for the moment. I think, though, in writing about the 9/11 stuff, I understand a little more of what I was feeling yesterday, and that I feel good having put that down on paper. I also enjoyed taking photos, which I haven’t done in a very long time. I used to love photography. Another passion that may get rekindled. Maybe it already has.

Neal Klein
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.

 

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