Today I watched the memorial roll call for the victims of 9/11, I know where I was that day I was crying and praying and doing mantras that my baby my wife made it home.
Each year the relatives of the lost say their names, this comes from the military tradition of roll calling the fallen. Today they put pictures and home town names with the names of the dead, and even now 11 years later I found out an Australian from my home town someone I actually went to school with died that day.
I used to have a gourmet bakery and coffee shop on eighth ave in Chelsea, every morning an expensively dressed man would walk a little girl with red ringlets like the girl in Annie the musical past my window to the bus stop out front and wait for the school bus and then would have an espresso and an everything bagel with cream cheese.
Later in the day I would always get a hurried phone call that went like this,” hello mia? Mia oh thank goodness you’re still open do you have your marvelous veggie lasagna? You do great save me two serves and garlic bread and an Italian salad I will knock on your side door on my way home please wait I’ll make it worth your while.
Every night five nights of the week there would be a knock 30 minutes after we closed, and he would pay and tip generously. On weekends he would bring the little girl for her “big girl brunch” with dad, she always got a very weak tea and a bagel with lox and he had his double espresso and everything bagel with cream cheese.
I lost over 2 dozen friends that day and we had catering contracts and most of our clients died. In the months after there were less businessmen at the bus stops, and I found out a large group of cantor Fitzgerald employees lived in the area and there were dozens of the local gay community who worked in the towers.
I left the business and a year later I saw the little girl with a woman who looked like her and I assumed it was her mother, I said to her how is your husband and she started to tear up and said you must be mia we lived on your food my husband loved your cooking he died on 9/11.
In the 11 years since I have had similar experiences so many times I no longer ask, and just when I think their can’t be any more the anniversary comes around and I watch and there amongst the pictures is another friend, another client another lost.
Family members who lost someone have lived with darkness ever since, some have even killed themselves and many live with PTSD and dozens live if that’s what you call it with breathing difficulties and dozens of different cancers.
We are rebuilding on those 16 acres and to the money men simple problem solved, but to the families the wives the children and the parents you are building a tombstone up to the sky. The soil you walk on as you build contains the dust of human remains, and will forever.
May your god give you peace if your loved one died that day and may you know that we the people will always remember and never forget.