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2009-02-28 - 9:39 a.m.

...old friends...

Last night I got a telephone call from one of my NY friends - she was sobbing into her cellphone.

Those people who have read my diary for years might remember this friend. I visited her while looking for an apartment in NYC back in 2003. She took me to ground zero where she matter-of-factly told me about what had happened that day. I remember that horrible day, because I lived in Germany and I still believed that she worked in the North Tower. When I saw the tower crash, I thought I had watched my friend die.

As she told me about what happened when we visited in 2003, I broke down into tears, remembering how I thought she had died. She on the other hand told it all to me without a tear or even a break in her voice. She had never cried about the deaths of all of her friends and colleagues on the 102nd floor.

Last night, she was invited to see a play in Manhattan, in the theater district, and they played news clips from that day. And finally the dam burst. She left the play and started walking - just like she did on that day. She walked south and kept walking. She finally called me when she had reached the Village, and sat down on a bench.

Through sobs she started telling me everything that she remembered about that day - about walking home across the Brooklyn Bridge, and standing in a line-up at the pay-phones to call her host family in Sweden to let them know that she was alright. They - like me - didn't know she had switched jobs ten days before. She told me about being invited into a stranger's home to use the phone, and watching the videos of the towers falling - how it was like watching it in real time, and how she started screaming at the TV "get out! get out now!," as if it hadn't happened yet.

At this point her grief about every other part of her life came flooding out as well. Her father's recent illness, her mother's Alzheimers, the death of a dear friend last week, the death of another friend two months ago. And then we moved even further back in time - to her childhood. She relayed how her father used to beat her - once so badly that she had blocked it from her memory. She has been on anti-depressants several times in the past - in fact, off and on since I've known her in college.

It was a very hard conversation. I tried to listen, but didn't always know what to say. I tried to tell her that I was relieved to see her finally start to release all of this grief. I was always concerned that she had never let go after her experience of losing all of her colleagues. And I was seeing now that this bottling of grief was an ongoing pattern.

Part of the difficulty is that I've had some negative thoughts towards this friend recently. I support her when I can, yet she has never mailed me a copy of her new CD that she has just released. Lately, this friend only calls me when she is at the lowest of her lows. I talk to her through her outbursts of tears. I never get the 'perk' of being a friend - the perk of hearing a joke or laughter. I begin to wonder if she realizes that she is doing this. The more frightening realization after this call is that the reason the perks aren't happening is because she is always feeling like this.

It makes me terribly sad, and it makes me feel helpless. I can only hope that this event has seriously provoked her to go back into therapy, and to try to regain touch with the wonderful parts of her personality, to see her value as a musician, and to view the completion of her first CD as a success rather than a failure.

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