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We will remember.

September 11th, 2006

Do you remember where you were when it happened?

I had been on the mental wing of a hospital in Glens Falls for about a
week. I got up exceptionally early intent on going to my groups since I was
sufficiently detoxed and wanted to go home. The nurses had left the TV on so
they could listen to the news but they were kicking all the patients out of the
television room. For some reason, they didn't notice me snuggled into the couch
wrapped in a thin blanket with my thumb in my mouth staring in awe at the set.
Discharges were cancelled for a day just to be on the safe side. Patients
weren't allowed to call home if they knew someone flying that day. Except me.
They let me call. And groups were cancelled and in their place were prayer
groups and a therapy session for those of us who were shaken by the attacks. I
didn't go. I was glued to the TV.

I went to the smoking room during a much needed commercial
break shaking from nicotine withdrawal and in desperate need for something to
calm my nerves. I couldn't get my cigarette lit in the hole in the wall, and a
nurse came in with a COP (constant observation patient) who I'd never heard
speak before. The nurse lit my cigarette and the patient looked at me and said,
"I told them this would happen. You knew, too, didn't you?" And while
I hadn't seen it, I had known that day was going to be bad. There was just
something in the air.

Later in the day, a French Canadian boy (who spoke English
as well) was brought in. He said he had a vision of the World Trade
Center going down the day
before, jumped into his car and started driving. They picked him up pulled over
on the side of the road crying hysterically. He was too afraid to get any
closer. I'm not sure why they brought him to Glens Falls… I just remember that for some
reason he felt I was the only one who understood his pain and spent the day and
a half he waited for his parents to get there talking to me and following me
around.

We had a boy there who was slightly odd. He was more a drug
addict than a loon and in a tweeked out stupor he sliced his wrists to shreds
believing he had to bleed evil from his body. When he sobered up, he was
normal. Well, as normal as most detoxing addicts can be. To keep our spirits up
that day, he made a cape out of one of the yellow "house coats" the
hospital provided and painted a big "R" on the arts and crafts
trashcan lid. He wore purple latex gloves and dressed in mismatched clothes and
ran around the hospital yelling "Never fear! Super Rob
is here!" and for a little while, my roommate followed him singing
"Here he comes to save the day! Super Rob
is on the way!" Super Rob's cape
and mighty gloves were confiscated and he was reprimanded for trying to cheer
people up.

The day the Canadian boy left, everyone tried to say goodbye
to him and he beelined for me ignoring them all. He kissed me on both my cheeks
holding my hands and staring at my face. I smiled, the eternal optimist, and
said, "I'll see ya later, okay?" He responded, "No. I'm leaving.
And you'll never see me again. We're from two different worlds. Odd it took
this to bring us together. Good-bye, Lori."
I laughed and watched him leave. I often wonder what happened to that boy who
thought he understood me. I dream about him sometimes and he's always trying to
tell me secrets. I smile, the eternal optimist, and say "I'll see ya
later, okay?"

That night, my roommate attacked her arms with pushpins. She
was hysterical because she loved that boy we'd only known for a day and a half
and he didn't say good-bye to her. Until that moment, I was sure she was stabilizing.
It's why I agreed to room with her when she asked me to. She pleaded with me to
take the blame for the pushpins being in the room because if they knew she'd
grabbed them from the cafe on her dinner night they'd refuse to allow her to go
out of the wing again. Like a fool, I did, not caring, really, whether I was
allowed off the wing or not. I enjoyed having dinner with the patients who
weren't allowed to leave. And because she hadn't "carefully premeditated
her own demise" the local mental institution refused to accept her into
their care. I live about twenty minutes from where she went to high school. I
still haven't seen her again. Maybe I'll run into her someday.

I remember the whispered speculation and having to set the
frightened patients straight because I was the only one who had been allowed to
watch the news. I remember paranoid cries of absolute certainty that the
hospital was going to be hit next. And I remember a couple of the people we
knew as "orderlies" (who were actually trained ER specialists and
kept on the wing in case one of us nut balls found a way to attempt to off
ourselves) leaving in a hurry to make the drive to NYC and help as much as they
could. One of them didn't come back in the time that I was there. I saw him
again six months later on my return visit. He said "Ground Zero" was
horrifying and he was glad to be home.

I didn't realize I remembered this much. I wonder how much
I'll remember of that part of my life in ten years.

A picture I found on the net.

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