My friend and colleague, Dominique Browning wanted me to share her memories of 9/11 with the Care2 readers on this 10th anniversary. At the time, Dominique was the editor-in-chief of House and Garden magazine…
Over the years, people have asked me for a copy of the column I wrote for House and Garden in 2001, the day after 9/11. I never had the heart to dig through boxes looking for a back issue. But as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 nears, I’ve had that terrible day constantly, vividly, on my mind.
My family and I lived in Pelham, New York, about a thirty-minute train ride from midtown Manhattan. Our small town lost many friends. My older son, Alex, could barely talk about it for days. Among the memories that will never leave me is that of a neighbor whose husband had not come home from work. He did not answer his phone. No one could give her any information about him. By nightfall, she was frantic. She got a friend to watch the children, grabbed her bicycle, and, crossing the Bronx on the highways, she pedaled down to the World Trade Center. She did not find her husband. I was thinking of her when I wrote this column, and I send it to you all again, now, in commemoration of what we lost on 9/11. And what we learned.
Making The Bed
It is impossible to think about anything besides the devastation from the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. We all have images seared in our memories–the airplanes shearing through the steel corduroy of the World Trade Center; a man and a woman joining hands and jumping from the building; the high school student, unable to wrench himself from the window of his classroom, watching dozens of people fly through the air, crossing himself as each body sails past to the street below. I find myself choking back tears over the tiniest of details: the shoes, hundreds of empty shoes, strewn through the streets; the silver-framed photograph of a baby found amid the rubble; the little things brought from home to make the office a warmer, more companionable place to spend the days and evenings. All destroyed.
My 12-year-old, Theo, sat on the floor in my arms, watching the news coverage that afternoon when I finally got home, playing with blocks he hadn’t glanced at in years, building towers with them, knocking them down with a model airplane, rebuilding the towers, knocking them down again, hardly conscious of what he was doing, over and over, sorting it out. After school the next day, having learned which classmates had lost mothers or fathers or both, he called me at the office in Times Square suggesting that I bring a parachute in from home (as if I have a stash in the mudroom) and keep it under my desk. How does anyone make sense of all this, much less help a child do it?