Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memory of 9-11

9-11 is my father’s birthday. Six years ago this morning I called him on the phone to wish him a happy birthday before he went to work. Then I looked at the TV on the kitchen counter. The news was on. There was a fire in one of the buildings at the World Trade Center and they were showing it live. The newscasters were matter-of-fact. They didn’t seem nervous about it at all but I kept thinking, what if that gets out of control? We’re talking about a skyscraper here. How are they going to put it out if it gets bigger? It’s not like the fire trucks have ladders that go up that high.

I got on the phone with my girlfriend. She was watching it too. I said, “I don’t think that’s good.” I never heard of a skyscraper burning down to the ground before but you never know. Jenise, always the calm voice of reason and not a worry-wart like me, didn’t seem concerned. Suddenly, a plane veered onto the screen and we watched it crash into the second building. Now I knew there was reason to worry.

We were only an hour or so away from New York if you weren’t traveling during rush hour. Many of our neighbors worked there. My sister’s husband fixed elevators in Manhattan. We all went up there for concerts and Christmas. One time I even read one of my short stories on stage at the Hudson Grille. We were close. We were so close we could see the smoke. Later, we could smell it.

Everyone knew someone who died in the buildings. For me, it was my real estate agent’s husband, Louis Minervino. Barbara called him Lou. I never met him, but I know of him. I can still hear Barbara’s voice talking about “Lou,” and I knew he was a caring and kind man. Barbara was a caring and kind woman and when I heard Lou Minervino died in the towers, my heart broke even further.

I have a picture of the New York skyline with the twin towers in it. It is taken from my father’s boat. It is really a picture of my new boyfriend, Kurt, who is now my husband. But New York was in the background. The funny thing is, there is a plane in the picture. It looks like it is heading straight for the towers. But it was taken many years before. It was taken at a time when we took the skyline for granted, when we always thought we’d have it, when we were young and we thought that we’d always have everyone.

This afternoon I turned on the TV in the kitchen and watched a special on Oprah about the children of 9-11. Six years later, some of them never even knew the parents they lost. Others took on the parent role and raised younger siblings because there was no one left who could do it. There were boys who went to Rolling Stones concerts because their father loved the Rolling Stones and it was a small way to keep him alive. There were boys who promised to grow up to be good men just like the dads they lost. All of them impressed me with their maturity and their determination to somehow make something good come out of such a terrible tragedy. You could tell they were all good kids who didn’t deserve to be in such a position. I sat there crying my eyes out.

Then I called my father and told him how glad I was that I could still call and wish him a happy birthday. I know how lucky I am.


Amy Hanek said...

Thank you for this wonderful post of 9/11. I am from NY state and was living in Florida at the time. Maybe it's survivors guilt, but I didn't know anyone involved with or lost on 9/11. I am thankful yet, sometimes I feel a little guilty but blessed.

Tell your father Happy Birthday!

Heather Froeschl said...

Great post Debi. You speak well of the things we are going through and what you felt. And thanks for the reminder to call my dad!