This weekend, I was hoping to find a few minutes to write the kind of thing I usually seem to write about. Family life, the changing seasons, little things that bring contentment. One subject, though, is inescapably in everyone’s thoughts: the tenth anniversary of 9/11. My family are getting on with our normal life today: tidying up after the last wedding of the season, walking the dogs and looking for early conkers, celebrating a family birthday. Yet always in my mind is this date, with its memories.
Project 2,996 is one of the most creative ideas on the blogosphere for remembering the people who died on 9/11. Any of us chooses the name of one of these people, then researches and writes a little tribute to them on our own blog or web page. Reading through the lists of names takes some time. It evokes shock, then sadness, then anger. The inspiring point of Project 2,996, however, is to emphasise not deaths, but lives.
Ten years ago, I was thirty-nine weeks pregnant with my first child. I remember watching the news unfurling on the television that day, feeling the imagined certainties of life dissolving and crumbling beneath my feet, wondering what sort of world my child was about to inherit. A world where there are people who hate you without even knowing you: who will your death without knowing that you live. Ten years on, I know that love goes on regardless.
Looking down the lists of those who died on 9/11, I noticed that several had been women the same age as I was then, thirty-two. What would they have done in this past decade? My first child was born – several days late – two weeks after I watched the Twin Towers collapse on TV. Since then I have moved house, changed jobs, had another child, lost people I loved, gained priceless memories of family life and happiness. How would the stories of these other women have turned out? I thought that I might add to the Project a tribute to one of them. As I began some preliminary research, though, I found that each person had pages and pages of tributes on the internet. None have been forgotten.
Christine Snyder from Hawaii, for example, ‘worked as a certified arborist for The Outdoor Circle, a nonprofit environmental group. She was returning home to her husband, Tom, in Kailua, Hawaii, after attending the American Forestry Conference in Washington, D.C. and a visit to New York City.’ She was on Flight 93. How interesting it would have been to listen to Christine talking about her work with trees.
Darya Lin moved with her parents to the United States after a childhood in Iran. She kept up her knowledge of Persian and used to write to her mother in it, hoping to return to visit Iran one day with her mother. Her father is Burmese. What an unusual and fascinating mixture of cultural influences she had. When others were evacuating the Twin Towers, she stayed behind to help a pregnant client.
Heather Malia Ho was a native Hawaiian, like Christine Snyder. Having been named Pastry Chef of the Year by San Francisco Magazine in 2000, she was working as a pastry chef at Windows on the World restaurant in 2001. She dreamed of opening her own pastry shop one day.
Zhanetta Tsoy had moved from Kazakhstan to take up an accountancy job in New York. Her first day in her new job at the World Trade Centre was September 11th, 2001. She had a husband, and she had a little girl called Alexandra.
And so the devastating list goes on. What can one say, without sounding trite or maudlin? What can one do? Just live, I suppose. Get on with our lives, celebrate the little things, and be grateful for our families, for those we love, for those who have loved us. And remember.