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September 11, 2011

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.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2011 7:21 pm

    Ah, sigh – DB – yes, the world changed for all of us that day, didn’t it? I was watching Morecombe & Wise clips this morning..tears streaming down my face (tears of laughter) and I suddenly thought ‘that is what has changed – the world is no longer such a kindly, innocent place’. And yet…there have been acts of enormous kindness, humanity and courage since 9/11, instigated and inspired by the dreadful events, and we have all, I think, been made to think more about what is truly important.
    Particularly, I feel the growing awareness of Ubuntu – that it is community which is important, and – as you so very rightly point out, the appreciation of, and gratitude for the small things – for having family around one, for having friends and neighbours who know you and care about you, to gather together at table, break bread and share food with each other. I say the ‘small’ things – but for most centuries, apart from the last few decades, it has not needed to be said that they are in fact the most important things in life.
    Thank you for highlighting those fine young women whose lives – and potentials – were lost that day – and, by extrapolation, thank you for reminding us all to make the very best of each day that is given as a gift to each one of us who is still fortunate to enjoy this world – which for all its faults, is still a beautiful and wonderful place.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 11, 2011 7:40 pm

      As always, Roz, you write beautifully about what really matters. Thank you.

  2. Margaret Lambert permalink
    September 11, 2011 7:24 pm

    Our local newspaper this morning featured interviews with local people who had a direct connection to the events of 9/11 in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington DC. Ours is a relatively small town, but it seems that most of us can find some commonality with the tragedy, where ever and whomever we are.
    Our son in law lost a cousin he had grown up with and was very close to, a 28 year old woman named Rahma Salie Theodoridis, who was expecting her first child, and was on American Airlines flight 11 from Boston, the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Rahma and her husband were on their way to a friend’s wedding. She was a shining light to everyone who knew her, a graduate of Wellesley College and already CEO of a company in Boston. She also happened to be a Muslim, which might be irrelevant if the last 10 years hadn’t been full of a backlash of prejudice, racism and a primal desire for revenge- all of which horrifies me nearly as much as the acts themselves.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 11, 2011 7:44 pm

      The death of Rahma and her family is a tragedy in itself. If the list of people lost shows anything, it is that we live in a multi-national and multi-faith world, where an attack on any nation is an attack on all of us.

  3. hmunro permalink
    September 12, 2011 12:03 am

    What a wonderful post you’ve written, db. Thank you for ending my day with such a positive, life-affirming message. All we *can* do is just live … celebrate the little things … be grateful for our loved ones … and remember. Beautifully said.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 12, 2011 5:36 pm

      xo to you, Heather.

  4. September 13, 2011 12:06 am

    As long as there is someone left who remembers, we continue. That’s my belief in the afterlife. Beautiful and poignant post.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 13, 2011 4:09 pm

      I think that’s what I believe, too.

  5. September 13, 2011 7:29 am

    One of the most moving tributes I’ve read out of the many just now.
    I know how you must have felt – the Gulf War started when I was in hospital after the birth of my son. All I wanted to do was protect my child.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 13, 2011 4:13 pm

      There never has been a Golden Age, has there? It has always been a fraught world into which to bring new life; but, as Roz reminds us above, it is beautiful nonetheless.

  6. October 9, 2011 6:59 pm

    Wow, that’s moving stuff to read details about the victims, especially having lived in New York during that difficult time. Hearing about their hopes and dreams makes them more real and not just a statistic, and really drives home the point that it could’ve been any one of us. Kudos to you for giving a few of them a voice in this post.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 9, 2011 11:29 pm

      Yes, it could have been any of us. Food for thought.

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