As The Bodies Fell He Played

(Editor’s note: this is an old post that I wrote about the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. But I always think about this and it is appropriate to share with you. More on this later)

Not unlike so many others the fifth anniversary of September 11 has been weighing upon me. I have been mulling over my thoughts and feelings and trying to decide what to say. I feel the weight of the moment and it makes me uneasy.

I have waded through hundreds of thousands of words that others have written, listened to audio clips of the day and spent far too much time watching video. My goal is to share my thoughts with you and to do so with as much eloquence and dignity as I can muster.

I am a decent writer, but others are far better than I am so I will leave the longer essays in their capable hands. As for the video, well I think that this time around I’ll let others posts their tributes/comments/criticisms on their own sites.

If you are interested in that kind of thing you might want to click here.

It was a Tuesday morning. Here in LA it was like many other mornings but this time my routine was interrupted by a call from my employer. She let me know that there had been an attack and that the office was going to be closed.

When I turned on the television my jaw dropped. I sat there transfixed by the sight of the planes crashing into the towers and the eventual collapse. I was dumbstruck by it all. But what I remember most of all is rather simple.

As I sat on the couch trying to process it all my son played. He was ten months old and oblivious to the pictures of the carnage. He held colored blocks and studied them. He grabbed stuffed animals and hugged them. He took toy cars and banged them on the floor and all the while the television showed the bodies falling from the sky.

The bodies fell awkwardly through the air. Some were still and some moved every which way, as if they were desperately trying to learn how to fly.

The bodies fell and he continued to play. The bodies fell and I stared at him. He was oblivious to it all. I felt guilty and relieved. Guilty because I knew that the people I saw on television were important to someone. A wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a father, a son and or brother.

They were people, but from 3000 miles away they were like specks.

I remember picking up the big boy from the floor. He smiled at me and pulled on my hair. I smiled back and hugged him tightly. I held him in my arms and prayed that the war would end before he was old enough to be at risk.

And now five years later he is old enough to be quite aware of the world around him. We have worked hard to maintain his innocence so that he might be a child for as long as possible. In many ways we have succeeded, but I worry that come monday morning that might change.

I have other 911 stories about the people I knew in the city and the things that happened to them. I was pretty lucky. 911 cost me a lot of money, but that is nothing compared to others.

This summer I was forced to spend some time explaining war to him. This summer he lost a little bit more of his innocence. I am hopeful that Monday will not take more from him.

The picture below is a personal favorite of mine. To me it is a reminder of hope and a symbol that we may have had our nose bloodied but we were not broken. Right now there is a lot of acrimony and partisan bickering, but Osama and company better remember that there is no dispute here about finding them.

There is a long memory and G-d willing they will all be brought to justice. In the interim I offer my own hope and fervent desire that we see a speedy end to the various wars and conflicts and that the coming year is one of peace.

Prior 9-11 posts
September 11- Eight Years Later
We Remember
Football Saves Lives
911- Five Years Later An Angry Rant
September 11 Musings

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  1. TheJackB September 12, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Hey Keith,

    I am proud to help you keep Chris alive. He sounded like quite a guy.
    My recent post Visions of Paradise

  2. TheJackB September 12, 2010 at 5:37 am

    There is never enough time to squeeze the kids as much as they deserve. That is always worth doing.
    My recent post Visions of Paradise

  3. Keith Wilcox September 12, 2010 at 4:00 am

    I was at home doing nothing. Saw it on TV in shock. Really indescribable the feelings. For two years I thought I'd escaped any personal loss in the tragedy. I was wrong, and the second pain was as bad as the first.
    My recent post Chris Larrabee- A Day to Remember

  4. Minnesota Mamaleh September 12, 2010 at 2:48 am

    beautifully written and IMPORTANT, jack. makes me (almost) want to go & wake all 3 of mine up just to squeeze them extra tight right now. thanks for yet another excellent read.

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