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Six Degrees of Sadness

September 11, 2014 11 comments

Six Degrees of Separation

They say there are six degrees of separation.

 “Everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth,..” ~ Wikipedia

I believe this to be true. One way or another, we’re all connected; especially when it comes to what happened on 9/11. Looking back, I’m certain that so many of us, knew somebody or knows somebody who knew somebody.

I knew somebody.

So many years later I still can’t talk about that day without becoming overwhelmed with emotion. I know I’m not alone.

Writing about it is almost as difficult.

I tried to think of something else to write about this week but the memories of that day are at the forefront of my mind and heart right now. I wouldn’t attempt to try to write about the profound loss of our sons and daughters, fathers and husbands, mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, colleagues and friends.

I couldn’t.

All week long there’s been articles, photos, video, reports and documentaries reliving those events. I didn’t watch them.

I still can’t.

The point of contact between the planes and all three buildings is indelibly embedded in my mind.

I don’t want to see it again — ever.

There were however, a few poignant moments when I was alone that day that will linger in my mind’s eye forever; moments that caused me to pause and take notice; moments that changed my life.

I was at home with my two children; my daughter who was 6-months and my son who was 2 ½ years-old. I had the TV on, although I don’t remember what I was watching. It was interrupted by “live coverage” of the first Tower, just after it was hit by the first plane.

It seemed unlikely, odd. I couldn’t fathom the possibility of it. I was trying to make sense of what I was hearing when something surreal and horrific happened.

I watched the second plane hit the second Tower.

I remember being very confused and thinking…

“What are they doing? How are they showing something that just happened a few minutes ago?

How could somebody get this video?”

And as quickly as the thoughts passed through my mind, it hit me.

This couldn’t be video tape from the first plane because I could still see the black smoke coming from first Tower. This was live coverage. This plane was hitting the second Tower. It was a second plane crashing into the second tower and it was happening, right now!

My eyes could see the events unfolding but my mind couldn’t comprehend their reality. I could hear the reporter in the background saying with disbelief, that this was happening right now but I didn’t understand.

There were so many surreal moments that day.

Later, as I sat on our porch smoking a cigarette trying to process what I had just seen on television, I had the realization that my life, our lives as we knew them would never be the same. An overwhelming feeling of sadness slowly began to overtake the initial feelings of horror and fear that I had. Understanding of what I saw, found its way to my brain. Now, when I recall that slow, creeping feeling of sadness, I think about how Ron Weasley described the presence of the Dementors on the Hogwarts Train;

“I felt weird, like I’d never be cheerful again”.

That’s what it was like for me.  I couldn’t imagine being cheerful again.

While I sobbed uncontrollably for what happened, for what I saw and for what I felt, the deafening sound of silence surrounded itself around me. The quiet in the skies was unsettling. The more I noticed it, the louder it became. You don’t notice or really pay attention to the activity in the skies until it ceases. It gave me a sense of isolation which created a fear in me, I’ve never experienced before. I will never forget that haunting, echoing sound of nothing when no plane was allowed to fly in our otherwise free, blue skies.

On the porch that day, while my babies napped peacefully, I smoked a cigarette and mourned for the feeling of security I didn’t realize I had until I lost it, a feeling I knew my children would never know.

For weeks afterward, the winds carried the smell of death up the Hudson River. It was a smoldering, horrific stench that sat, heavy in the air. Unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before, or since, it was a foul and constant reminder of the devastation and loss our nation suffered.

Everyone I know, knows somebody or knows somebody who knows somebody.

There are six degrees of separation, they say. Six people between you and I, as strangers before an introduction. The world we live in is a small one. One way or another, we’re all connected.

I knew Somebody.

We all knew somebody.

Photo Credit #1: Six Degrees of Separation

Photo Credit #2: World Trade Center

Photo Credit #3: Connected

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Going On…

September 2, 2012 7 comments

This week’s re-post Diamond in the Rough is from November, 2011. I chose this one not only because it’s a favorite among readers but also because the beautiful journals that I mention below are very close to becoming a book. A Kickstarter Campaign has been started to help defray some initial start up costs. If you have a few minutes please visit

Going On: A Book About Life.

Diamond in the Rough

Gratitude.

This week I can’t help but be thankful for the people in my life, my children and our health.

It’s a tradition in the school I work at, to celebrate each year’s accomplishments at a Stepping Stones ceremony in June. Throughout the year some of the faculty collect beautiful stones from a wide variety of places for each student to pick from.

A few years ago, one of our senior graduates turned the tradition around. He’d gone mining earlier in the year and instead of just taking a stone for himself, he gave each member of the faculty and staff a Herkimer diamond. It was a touching gesture.

Mine, was stolen from a drawer in my bedroom a year-and-a-half ago.

He passed away a little over a year ago.

This particular graduate was an extraordinary human being. I knew he could write, memorize and recite complicated monologues. But it wasn’t until his memorial service that I discovered the breadth of his artistic abilities. It was there that I was given a glimpse into just how talented he was. I didn’t know he had such an incredible eye for photography or that he whittled the pieces of an entire chess set out of wood or fashioned a beautiful wooden flute for his mom. He also made grand bags out of leather and bark and created with glass. He made beautiful marbles and knives. He was quite the unique individual and his art reflected that. In this technological age of all things electronic, he was a breath of fresh air.

He was a diamond in the rough.

Recently, his mom who is also an artist, had an art exhibit entitled 100 Hearts in his honor. I have three.

I spent a few days with her this summer at our place in the woods Upstate. I read her beautifully drawn journals, the ones that try to put into perspective what her daily life is like now without her son, how her grief is endless and how grateful she is for the time she had with him. As a mother I am in awe of her strength sometimes and heartbroken by her loss, always.

Just before the Thanksgiving break, I was in her classroom and she handed me a small bundle of tissue. Beneath the folds of the carefully wrapped paper lay not one but two of the Herkimer diamonds her son mined that year.

One is clear and small. The other is larger and contains rare impurities. Both are beautiful in their own special way. Heart stop.

Needless to say thoughts of this young man and his spirit have lingered with me all week-long.

Gratitude. Be happy for what you have — right now.

This week in particular, I’m thankful for the people in my life, my children and our health.

Hug your diamonds in the rough today.

Going On: A Book About Life

Photo Credit #1 Hearts By Goldy Safirstein/Going On- A Book About Life

Photo Credit #2 Gratitude

Photo Credit #3 Stones

Photo Credit #4 ©Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Photo Credit #5  Children

Photo Credit #6 Book Cover by Goldy Safirstein/Going On- A Book About Life

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