Now the sky there is clear, one can see the stars, but its shadow remains . . .
I haven't been able to go to Ground Zero, even more than 2 years after the destruction of the World Trade Center -- the closest I've been able to come is Park Row or Battery Park or Park Place -- I haven't even been able to go to the church there -- it's still too traumatic . . .
Some may wonder at my reaction, given that I lost no one I personally knew there, but there is a reason -- a very big reason.
People seem to forget that what happened on September 11, 2001 was not the first time the World Trade Center had been struck by terrorists, nor the first time people had died there in a terrorist attack. It had happened before, less than a decade before . . .
A truck bomb had gone off, killing many of the people working in the building maintenance offices on the other side of the wall from where that truck had been parked in the basement garage.
I knew those people -- I had worked with them -- I even used to playfully suggest baby names to the pregnant secretary who worked there and died that day with her unborn child.
I was supposed to be there -- on that day -- at that time -- on the other side of the wall from that truck bomb -- having a meeting with all those people who died.
But the gods intervened.
That morning, I was unexpectedly told of a change in my regular schedule, where I was to go with a colleague to a nearby area -- Chinatown -- for a business meeting. When we later tried to go to the Trade Center was when we found out what had happened only a short time before, as people and smoke poured out of the building.
One of the names in the future World Trade Center memorial could have been mine.
But the gods intervened.
So every time I am in that area I think of then and how if the gods hadn't chosen to arrange that unexpected schedule change I would not be here now, alive. I think of then, and I think of September 11th and I say to myself "Not now -- another time . . . "
I was in the area shortly after the police let people back into lower Manhattan to work. I remember coming out of the Chambers Street station into brilliant sunshine. Sunshine that I was unused to there, there where the Towers dominated the skyscraper canyons of lower Manhattan. I breathed in the stench -- like that of a massive electrical fire -- and I nearly threw up right then and there as the incredible loss hit me in the gut once again, in the most visceral possible way.
I still carry the memory of that smell -- strongest when I see the hole in the skyline there and sunshine or starlight where I used to see the massive presence of the Trade Center -- and I remember all over again how, but for the grace of the gods, I too would be but a memory . . .
And I say to myself yet again, "Not now -- another time . . . "