Life Support

Scenes from a rescue mission

"You need to get out and function and go to this concert," he says. "There are other people out there and you need to hear their stories."

Graves lowers her head. "Don't you get the sense that people want 9/11 to go away?"

"Chris knows that, don't you?" Anne Marie interjects, trying to coax a silent Baumann. He sits in a rocking chair, zoned out. His wife again prompts him: "Chris, do you get support from your family?"

Baumann shakes his head and says: "I come from a family of cops, and they all tell me, 'Get over it.' "

But there are some things you cannot get over, he has said. Like the sound of bodies falling from the towers. The sight of people bleeding from open wounds. Or the woman whose right arm was slit from her shoulder to her wrist. Or that other woman who was severed in half.

"All my friends at the precinct stopped talking to me," Baumann continues. "They don't want to hear about 9/11."

Graves then turns to him. "Did you try to off yourself?"

"Yes."

"So did I," she confides. "It sucks."

After an hour of conversation—about medications, about the responders who need lung and kidney and bone marrow transplants, about the media outlets that never cover the dying responders—Baumann rubs his face. It's a signal to go home.

The four exchange hugs. Then, as the others leave, Graves says, with a sigh: "You don't know how fantastic that was. Finally, I don't feel like such a freak."

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