9/11 Twenty Years of Remembering

9/11 Twenty Years of Remembering

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Dear Jonah,

StoryCorps recently posted a piece about twin brothers who’d been extremely close their entire lives, sharing their childhoods, sharing their livelihoods, and even their employment at the World Trade Center. As I listened to one of them speak, I wondered if this had been recorded prior to 9/11 and that the brothers had perished there together. I soon understood that the recording was recent, and that he was recounting how it was that his brother was gone but he is still here.

I cried.

2600 innocent souls were stolen on that lovely fall morning in 2001, gone long before their time, families and friends having to learn to live life around a gaping hole still filled with love but empty of the person who should be there.

I appreciate crying. It helps me to feel more fully human. I was deeply saddened by the brothers’ story, but grateful to have heard it and been moved by it. The tears didn’t feel good, but they felt right.

If you like, give a listen for yourself.

As with so many others, I will of course never forget September 11, 2001. We were heading into our last day of a vacation in Los Angeles, about to return for more romp in Disneyland when the phone rang and Grandma Iris told us to turn on our hotel room television. It was 6:30 in the morning for us, but back home both towers were already in flames.

You and your siblings spent the next three days with me and Mom, glued to CNN, watching events unfold and helping us figure out how to get home (Rosh Hashanah was only a few days away and we couldn’t get a plane, a train or even rent a car). When we finally did return to New York, the drive home took us past the southern tip of Manhattan and its smoldering ruins. We’d certainly known that the horror was real, but seeing it in person took things to a whole other level. I will never forget the image of the smoke rising from … from nowhere … as what had been the Twin Towers slowly passed us while we headed up the New Jersey highway.

When I cried for those brothers, Jonah, I also cried for you. Can’t help it. After all, you’re the one who made me so sensitive to others’ travails. It’s unavoidable. I certainly don’t mean to diminish what others have had to endure, but such stories always brings me back to you, to your death, and to my continued grieving. You’ve made me build a “pause” button into my life that creates a space within which I react to more of the world around me, events both large and small.

9/11 changed us forever. You experienced that change right alongside us. To this day, I cry for the 2600 souls robbed of their lives. I also cry for you. Because I always cry for you.

On this date – September 11, 2021 – I join with everyone who remembers and who carries the great sorrow of that day. For one generation, it has become a defining moment of who we are.

I’m sorry I had to lose you for my heart to be able to grieve so heavily for those who died on 9/11. But they deserve our grief and, in spite of everything, I’m grateful to you for teaching me how to shed tears for others.

Love you forever,

Billy9/11 Twenty Years of Remembering

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  • DonJones - December 19, 2021 reply

    Thank you for being a messenger of this shared story and a bearer of your own reflections. Gifts abound.

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