In honor of 9/11 I am posting the following — a memory of the day our world changed forever, causing us to to hold the ones we love even closer.
It was 5:45 a.m. on September 11th. My first-born boy was wearing the maroon shirt we had given him for his twenty-first birthday when he stepped out the door bound for the Manhattan office where he works for an investment broker. With his shoes shined to perfection and every shiny-brown hair in place, I admired him as I spoke to him the last words of the morning, “Goodbye, hon. I hope you have a great day—I love you!” As history revealed itself on that tragic morning, those last words would be my only consolation.
The date and time of his urgent phone call remain recorded on our telephone’s caller i.d.—9:03 a.m. 9-11 – Fleet Securities. (Somehow, we just cannot delete it.) “Dad! Turn on the news—a plane just crashed into one of the Twin Towers! Turn on the news! Turn on the news! I can see the whole thing from my window. Oh, no, another plane—Dad, I gotta go. Another plane just hit the other tower. They’re evacuating us—I gotta go.” Click.
As he ran through the streets of Manhattan, destined for the Brooklyn Bridge, the maroon shirt that had celebrated his September 1st birthday became a dust-mask for a fellow worker who couldn’t breathe. His short, golden-brown hair gathered debris as it fell from the troubled sky. The shoes that were shined to perfection so early that morning now gathered inches of concrete dust as they carried my son to the safety of the bridge. From the protection of its steel girders, he watched as the glory of those two magnificent towers came to a tragic end. And he couldn’t call us to tell us he was safe, uninjured, and out of harm’s way—he just couldn’t get through. “I love you.” I was so glad I had told him.
It was 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 12th. My first-born boy was wearing the maroon shirt we had given him for his twenty-first birthday when he walked through the front door of our Long Island home. And we all hugged him when we saw him—we hugged him like never before. And always, always we will hug him—we’ll hug him like never before—that’s just the way it is.