I was living in Manhattan during 9/11. Good thing it was the one day my mother did not turn on the news down in Columbus, Georgia in the early morning, as was her routine. Instead she had been out tending to her flower garden on a beautiful September morning.
I called her in a panic that fateful day.
“Mom, I just wanted you to know I’m OK” I said in a breathless tone.
“Oh, that’s nice. Thank you daughter.” – Mom said.
I’m thinking to myself, ‘she does not get it. She does not understand. She is not making a connection.’
“Mom, haven’t you seen the news this morning?” – I said from the offices of Synergos Institute, where I was employed working on the Global Philanthropists Circle.
“Oh, no, I’ve been out in the garden. It’s always so nice to hear from you. How are you?” – She said in her sweet southern voice, oblivious to what was happening in the world.
“Well, Listen.” “There’s been some terrible attacks on New York City. Some planes went into the World Trade Center. We don’t really know what is happenning here. We can’t even find a TV that works in the office yet. I got a call from my boss, who saw the attacks from his apartment near the United Nations building. He watched the planes go into the buildings. He left me this crazy message about it on my voice mail this morning. So, I don’t know what’s really going on, but I wanted you to know I’m ok.” Turn on the news and you’ll see what’s going on. But, know I’m OK. I’ll call you back later when I know more.”
“Alright daughter. I love you.” – she said.
“I Love you too mom. I’ll call you back.” – I said and still thinking, ‘she does not get it.’
A few days after September 11th, a young firefighter from England named Andy Pike, would hop on a plane to New York City from London. He would take vacation time to get there. His friends in the New York Fire Department would find a way to get him into the site. He would use a borrowed fireman’s outfit. And, aside from his accent, he would look like he belonged there. He will have been given a special orange wrist band to be allowed onto the site of the World Trade Center, which had tight security. He would dig and help save lives and help find remains. He would be traumatize by what he experienced. He would be traumatized by what he saw. He would come back one year later to New York and we would meet at a local bar. We would date, we would become exclusive, and I would begin a relationship with this wonderful person and make plans to be together more permanently, who would eventually break total ties with me to heal himself from the aftereffects of PTS at the advice of Doctors. He would also try to save his own job while being treated for PTS that was caused by something he did on his own time. And I would find myself at the psychologists office that serves the FNDY to find out why he had cut all ties with me and NYC. I would be told they could not help me, as he was with the British Fire Brigade and I would be given a referral to an outside doctor. I would, with the help of my friends, try to come to grips with the sudden loss in my life..just as sudden as those who were lost on 9/11.
But, before Andy left my life and before PTS took its full toll on his life, I would see in him the type of person who would always put himself second. The type who would give his life for another. The Hero type in the literal and emotional sense. An emotional man but in the way someone is emotional out of stress and weakness, not the good kind. And, there is a good kind.
As a songwriter, I write when I am inspired. Something has to hit me hard, really get to me…leave its mark. Andy inspired two songs on my album. Hero in My Eyes, about his self sacrificing life as a firefighter and also the title track, Night Flight to London, which captured all the good feelings I had when I would travel from New York City to London to see him.
9/11 brought me a wonderful man. 9/11 eventually took him away from me. I am left, however, with two wonderful songs that will always be important to me and encapsulate two wonderful experiences in my life. “Night Flight to London” represents all the hope and possibilities new relationships have to offer. The promise of a better life…the feeling of excitement…of knowing you are on a journey to something you have never experienced before with someone. A journey of two, not one.
Today, on 9/11/2011 I want to dedicate my songs Hero in My Eyes and Night Flight to London to Andy Pike, a member of the British Fire Brigade. He gave gladly the days after 9/11. His actions helped identify loved ones. He was and will always be a hero in my eyes.