Saturday, September 11, 2004


I actually missed it all in real time. John had been in remission a year at that point, but had severe nerve damage to his feet and still needed a lot of attention. I was working nights at the Wyndham Reach resort, and came home that morning at 7:30. I cooked breakfast for John, then went to bed at 8:30. Through the day I kept being woken up by John shuffling around the house. He was so restless, which was unlike him. But he didn't call for me, so I went back to sleep. I didn't hear the TV: he had a cord less headset for the TV so I couldn't hear it. Finally, at about 3:30 pm, I had taken all I could of him thumping around the house. I yelled from the loft and asked him what was wrong. His answer I will never forget. It was in a tone of complete matter of fact. He said, "Two airplanes hit the World Trade Center, and they fell down."
I bolted straight up out of bed, and scrambled down the ladder to where he was. John was sitting there, eyes glazed over, deathly pale. I jerked the earphone cord out of the jack, and sat down to see. And I saw the bodies falling, the paper flying all over the site. The planes vaporizing on impact. The Pentagon burning. People on TV asking if anyone had seen their particular member of their family. John grew up in New Haven, CT. He had spent every waking moment he could sneak away from home in New York City. He kept repeating," Where are they going to put all the people who live there, who work there?" He kept repeating this. I ended up calling his doctor to ask what I should do, since he was obviously in shock. Dr. Krathan told me to monitor his vital signs to make sure he didn't get weak, and that was all I could do. Meanwhile, Key West was in chaos. Key West is mostly naval base. We heard jets scrambling above us. I was off that day, but was put on call, since more than a third of our employees either were trapped on the locked down base, or were active members called to duty. I ended up able to stay home with him, a good thing. He was so unstable. I finally got him to eat at 6:30 that night. I turned off the main news channels. I told him to order the silliest movie on pay per view, which turned out to be Flesh Gordon. I then got into the stash of pre-rolled Cuban dope we had to help his nausea, and we smoked two of them. We got so goofy that we were giggling shadows on the wall by late that night. And he was able to sleep.
This is the real reason I remember it so well. At almost that precise day, John had a year to live. It turned out to be a rough year; we moved back to Kentucky to be near both of our families. We knew that the Gleevec keeping him alive would not work forever, so the best thing I knew to do was get him to better medical care. I knew he would need it eventually. And he did. From that March to July, he slowly went out of remission. I was supporting us with two jobs. Our marriage had turned into an affectionate companionship; We had not been lovers for awhile. John's funeral was Sept. 12, 2002. I continue to be haunted by that last year, wondering if I had done all I could do. If I had made his last years worth living. If I had destroyed his faith in me by allowing him to be placed on life support. Had he forgiven me for all the mistakes I had made, real or imagined. I guess I sometimes feel guilty that I keep him a year longer than those families in NYC and DC had a chance to keep their families. Which was better: to have a long goodbye, to see your love die slowly, or to see them die in a flash of fire and crumbling buildings? I will never be able to have an answer to these questions. The only thing I knew was that in a time of trouble I did my best. That could also be said of all the families who faced horrendous loss that year. I feel honored and blessed to be in their company.