He was supposed to go in that day. He needed to get new jewelry for the store.
I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if he had gone in.
Would he be a martyr? A saint?
All day, I am taking orders for Challah, birthday cakes, rolls. Someone asks me to write on their birthday cake, and wonder if they feel conflicted on this day. They have a joy in their life, on a day that is a horror, a scar on the face of so many lives.
I think of my friend who will never share another birthday with her uncle. I remember her scanning the footage for his face, insisting she saw him jump out, he’ll be fine. My chest still pings to this day, haunted by her determined, anxious face.
I think of my friend who lashes out when anyone talks about his father. I never really asked what happened to him, given the pain it caused him, but sometimes, I wonder if perhaps his father was one of those men in our town who never returned home that day.
I think of the memorial park. It was in the heart of town, a few feet from my high school. It was on the left corner at the head of Fair Street, next to the instrument shop where I would get my violin strings. I can’t recall what it was before that time – a gas station? A parking lot? A vacant area where a building once stood?
Either way, a few years passed, and it was the 9/11 Memorial Park, to honor our fallen, especially our fire department. We lived in the farthest town a firefighter could be part of FDNY. Many of them went in those towers that day. I know a friend who glances a leery eye at her father when he has a drink. He was one of the ones who made it out, and she suspects that he is still haunted by his friends who will never share another drink with him.
A martyr? A hero?
Mama’s best friend, he was in high school. He stole his brother’s ID, and snuck away from home for a week to do clean up. There wasn’t much security back then. That day never sits well with him.
I wonder about Dad and my uncle. This incident resulted in years of overseas tours for them. I think of all the time this stole from our family.
He was supposed to go in that day. He had work to do. I still wonder about how I’d feel if he had gone in.
A martyr? A saint?
A victim? A hero?
Would I have been the person I am?
A victim. A martyr. A saint. No hero.