Sunday’s 9/11 Story

I'm not even sure where to start with this one. On Sunday, I had been invited to a wine and cheese presentation hosted by the Freedom's Flame Memorial Foundation. The Freedom’s Flame memorial commemorates 9-11 and honors the heroes and families touched by this event. It will be located in Rancho Cucamonga’s (California) Central Park. There are also plans for a second, identical, sculpture to be presented to New York City as a gift. The presentation was hosted to present the idea to those groups and individuals connected with 9/11, and hopefully get our support and feedback.

To say it was an interesting day would be an understatement. In fact, the way I received and accepted the invitation to the event was interesting in and of itself. I got a call at around 7pm Friday night from one of my friends, who is also the mother of a WTC victim. She and her husband had been contacted about the event, and asked if I would be interested in joining them. Without batting an eye, I said "I'm in!" She asked if I wanted to see their website to see if it would be something I would be interested in, and I told her that I didn't have to, and that I'd be there on Sunday. (For what it's worth, my friend Diane knew about my weekend with James Van Praagh, and knows about some of my "interesting" experiences. So, she's kind of used to it by now.)

Fast-forward to Sunday. You know how they say if something is meant to happen, the Universe cooperates? Well, if my lack of weekend mass-transit delays and detours on the way there was any indication, this was meant to be. A commute that would normally take me about an hour and a half, took just a little over an hour. I made every bus and subway connection that I needed to make. So, here I am at this lovely restaurant on Lexington and East 28th, wondering if I'm going to feel like a fifth wheel during all this because I'm not a family member, WTC worker or WTC survivor. Boy was I wrong!

In a nutshell, it was one of those "interesting experience" days. The first person I spoke to from the Freedom's Flame Memorial Foundation was Sam, who told us about some of his own "interesting experiences", including, but not limited to, receiving donations of a WTC fire truck, WTC steel to use in the building of the memorial, travelling cross-country transporting a huge truckload of steel from NYC to Rancho Cucamonga (there are pictures of this trip on their website), and getting an offer of a warehouse to store it all. Sam had so many incredible experiences to share, and he was only the beginning! I later met the lovely Gran and Rose, who had their own stories to share. Gran shared her experiences of being clinically dead, and later in a coma. If you ever want to hear funny coma stories, you have to hear Gran tell hers. She had us laughing so hard, we couldn't breathe! (In case you're wondering, yes folks, they can hear us. So be careful what you say and do around coma patients – it may come back to haunt you!)

The visit to the Liberty Street Family Room at Ground Zero was, in a word, intense. Not in a bad way, though. For me, strange as this may sound, walking in the door and seeing all of the pictures, memorabilia and memorials was like "old home week". I saw names and faces that I had passed by every day on my way to and from work after 9/11. I felt them there, too. They were definitely there in that room, no doubt about it. It's really hard to describe the sensation, but it's kind of a cross between an overwhelming, almost overpowering amount of love, and a sense of calmness and peace. It's a feeling that literally takes your breath away. While I was there, something gave me the idea of putting all of the photos that I had taken of the various memorials around Ground Zero into a book, and giving it to the Family Room. I started to mention my idea to Diane, and about halfway through, the sensation was so strong that I literally had to stop and take a few breaths before continuing. It was almost like feeling choked up with emotion, but about a hundred times more powerful. I've been trying not to use this word because of its negative connotation, but it was definitely a really "freaky" experience. A very good experience, but definitely a "freaky" one!

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