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Oh, Say can you see?

Second cup of dopamine. The fog is nearly dispersed from a head that woke throbbing.

Note to self: No milk at night. To my dairy loving, albeit lactose intolerant system, it makes for bizarre dreams and impacted sinuses. Sleep apnea; hence the aching head. Oxygen: Don’t leave home without it.

I wonder, how do people with addictions manage at all? My greatest vices are coffee, milk and the occasional swearing streak when under duress. (A lot of that in the past few years. Note to self: Try not to need soap to wash out oral cavity).

A cup of milk renders me block-headed; how could I function if there was more serious impairment? Thankfully, I was spared that particular suffering but my family and most of my patients were not. And so the counseling school came to be…

Having washed up on the Big Island of Hawaii for the second time, Post 9-11, its creation became the only logical answer to the devastation done by alcohol, drugs, and family implosion that characterizes this mental health provider shortage area.

For a year and half after the fall of the twin towers, I laid awake at night, praying incessantly to abandon the greater NY metropolitan area for the pristine shores of Hawaii island; sweet Paradise that I had forsaken for the glitter of gold that the east coast promised.

Gold indeed. Freeways; toll booths; two-hour commutes; driving through blizzards to serve my severely mentally ill patients in Morris and Passiac counties.

No worries; strong Irish stock. My single motherhood worn like a badge of honor, right on my sleeve with my often Purple Heart. Until the day the towers fell….. from that clear, perfect September morning forward, my days were punctuated with triggers and my nights, with sweats and nightmares.

FEMA sent everyone, who felt in any way affected by the incident that clearly pronounced the dawn of World War III, into the local mental health clinics for care.

Care, indeed.

What do you say to someone who appears with a small container of ash, Saying , “All they found was a finger bone. That was all that was left of him….”

How do you make sense of the binging and purging of a beautiful, blond female commodities broker, who watched her Tower mates jump, as she approached the smoking buildings from a meeting Downtown? How to offer comfort when she says,  “At our new offices I have to open all the correspondence addressed to the only other female broker”, who, having arrived early for work that crisp autumn day, became particles of dust and ash?

The ash, the dust; how it coated everything as the wrenching winds carried the smell of vaporized human flesh across the river to NJ where I worked.

Planes flew low; the public radio station that was my companion on those long drives was now silent; having been blown off the face of the earth with the rest of the Towers.

Road rage was memory, the much thinned rush hour traffic consisted of dazed commuters glued to their care radios, with new destinations in the City.

The radios bragged about how tough New Yorkers were and the EPA lied about the effects on all of us.

Nine years later they are  dying, slowly on the installment plan for being heroic, ordinary people who went to work that fateful day. Flags rippled in the Indian Summer breezes everywhere as America wore Her Sunday best during that incredibly crystalline Autumn.

For myself, I hung the Betsy Ross, and two “Don’t Tread on Me” flags on the front porch of our Edwardian home that had once served as the small Delaware River’s village Public Library.

A Daughter of the American Revolution, born and bred in the cradle of Liberty and Democracy, those banners fluttered, as my mute witnesses to the only legitimate reason for taking up arms against an enemy. “Oh, say can you see, By the Dawn’s Early Light…”

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