Night blooming Cereus

I picked an object that witnessed 9/11 (I chose St. Patrick’s Cathedral) and described 9/11 from its perspective.

I am one hundred and forty years old, born in 1878, and built from wood, nails, and love. The workers hammered all day, wiping their sweaty foreheads, and I took their energy and grew on it. I rose and rose until my gleaming spires touched the sky and passed through it. The priest came, striding up and down with a big head and a booming voice that rose to the heavens. They called me a place of faith, where they who believed came every Sunday to forget their worries and reach out to each other. For 123 years I lived this way; then came September 11th, 2001.

    On September 11th, the sun hung in the baby blue sky, forcefully perpetuating the lingering last days of summer. My friends, the Twin Towers, cast me in shadow, as they always did. As proud as I was about my superior architecture, they loomed over me. Each tower had 110 floors and reached up into the heavens, reaching even farther than my spires. They dared to scrape the sky—until 8:46 a.m, when a plane crashed into the North Tower.

    The North Tower stood still, tall and erect like a proud lion, for just a half-second. Then heat filled the air. Dirt sprayed everywhere. An immense fireball spewing shards of glass filled the air with noxious, acrid-smelling smoke and blocked my vision (sight and smell). The Tower itself glowed red with flickering flames.

    I could not hear anything. I only saw that collision. Rage filled me. How dare one pilot make a mistake and harm my best friend of thirty-one years? The Towers—both of them—had always stood over me and protected me, and my walls quaked with grief that one was gone.

    Yelling reached my ears. Shouting as well, as the people of New York City scrambled desperately to save those who were now trapped inside the building. I heard screams of uncertainty and helplessness. Sirens wailed as firefighters rushed to the scene, intent on helping as many as could be helped (hearing).

    The North Tower shook as its foundation crumbled, its walls broke down, beams of steel and windows of glass slowly imploded. As the shrieking grew, I recognized four of the firefighters rushing into the building. They had scribbled through the dust on one of my glass windows only a day before. Although I was a cathedral, I had never prayed before. But now I hoped with all my heart that they would survive to come back to Mass. Would there even be Mass now? Would the priest return only to preach to empty pews?

    In the midst of this chaos, I raised my eyes to the sky in helplessness, only to notice another plane. It zoomed right toward the second tower. Horrid realization dawned on me—the first crash had not been accidental, but contrived.   

    More dust. More dirt. More grime and smoke and heat and hurt. Grit and sand lodged into the cracks in my insides. As the towering buildings quivered and shook uncertainly, people pounded through the streets, toward me, as they fled to a haven (touch). Their lips moved fervently as they whispered prayers into my walls. In the midst of the wreck and chaos, New Yorkers turned to me to provide a place of peace and faith, of reassurance that God would take care of them. I stretched my walls, raised my ceiling, and pushed outward to make space inside for the people who needed it.

    On the day that everything changed, twins symbols of peace and humanity fell, never to rise again.

    On the day that everything changed, 3,200 children lost their parents, and countless more lost a friend or loved one.    But New York’s soul did not change that day. New York City, a place of business, technology, fashion, and fame, revealed itself to be at its heart a community. New Yorkers entwined their roots with one another and as a whole grew toward the sunlight—toward the hope. Like a night-blooming cereus, they blossomed in their darkest hour. The broken heart of America became something people were determined to fix. Although many were killed, those who survived forged a stronger community than before. My dust-laden pews were cleaned. And once again, my interior became a place of worship and faith. The people came back, in droves. The priest boomed louder than before, and my spires carried his message even higher.

Since I do not have the strength to write today, this piece was written by kiddo, I had to share it here.

Peace and love to everyone affected by 9/11. Years may have flown by , but, it feels like it happened yesterday. The void can never ever be filled. Let us sit with the grief for a bit and not push it away.

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