on the way to work this morning the train was packed as usual. still it was not a usual morning. none of these mornings, afternoon, nor evenings were good these few days after the world trade center collapse, or whatever you want to call it. i really don't want to think about it much less call it something. naming it makes it real and not a dream. we're all standing there around this pole holding on. i see the missing signs and pictures in her hands like all the too many ones posted around the city. people missing the ones they love. sadly it's not unusual for someone to ask how you are these days followed by 'did you know anyone in the wtc crash?' i didn't, i breathed quietly and gratefully inward. i asked her, i mean she's holding the signs in her hands. 'are you missing someone.' deep sigh, 'yes, my son.' she went on to explain in what i later learned was an australian accent that her son was missing in the wtc collapse. i thought to myself, it's been 2 days and she hasn't heard anything yet. but if there is one thing you need to know about me, that is, i'm probably the biggest dreamer you'll ever meet. add to that i'm an eternal optimist. he could turn up, and i believed that, but i didn't say that to her. i didn't want to sound 'light' about it all.
she was here on holiday. he, her son had kissed her goodbye that september eleventh morning on his way to work. they would play after work. he'd show her some more of the city that she was visiting for the first time. the ironic thing about it is, the weather was gorgeous that day, as it always is in september here. perfect for roaming around the city and discovering. but that day, the sky was filled with black smoke against the clearest blue background, and you could smell it for miles and miles.
'so here she was,' she went on to tell me, 'here alone in this city for the first time after all this trying to navigate whatever it is that needs to be navigated to find her son.' one of which meant walking around the city posting missing signs with his picture and crucial information about him and what to do should you see him.
a seat opened up nearby and i asked her if she would like to sit. immediately afterward the one next to her opened up as well. i sat down. she said she was going to hang the signs and then go back to the apartment and have a cup of tea. i'm not one to tell another how to worry or grieve, but a cup of tea seamed rather light to me, and i adore tea. it wasn't until many years later that i learned that for the brits, irish, and australians, a cup of tea is a temporary soothing answer to what hurts. you have a seat, a sip, cry a little, talk with someone you love and get your breath back, at least enough to carry on.
i sat there lending my love as best i could under the circumstances. eventually i got off and went on to work. but i never forgot that moment there with that lady. and i still wonder if she ever did find her son.