I can’t believe that its been 12 years. Like so many people around the world I too remember exactly where and what I was doing when this horrible day played out. If you read anything about 9/11, 12 years on, read this Esquire piece; it goes with the picture.
As the years keep adding up, one by one, I find myself reflecting more and more on not what happened or why it happened, but rather the things that matter most in my life. I find that I am coming to this place after hearing story after story from family members who lost loved ones on this tragic day, as well as people who have lost people they love in any tragedy be it Sandy Hook or Trayvon Martin. The last memory we have of a loved one can be one that leaves us in our sorrows or it moves us on through the time we have remaining in this life.
I am a huge supporter of NPR’s Story Corps. Lately I have been working with my Mom to draw up a family tree using Ancestry.com and this came about when my surrogate Grandpa on my mom’s side passed away suddenly. We had literally talked with him the week before his passing and everything seemed good and he was his jovial self and we talked about coming to visit him soon in Islamabad, Pakistan. A few days later he was hospitalized and he passed away.
In telling his story, my mom shared how he had joined the British forces in what was then British Raj (colonized India) to fight in World War II without having told anyone in the family that he was going to do that. That was a surprise to me. I knew he had served in the Pakistani military, risen up through the ranks of the Air Force, fought in the East Pakistan (Bangladesh) war. But I had not known about his enlisting to fight WWII.
Tragically, with his passing the elders of my maternal side of the family have passed the baton to the next generation in Pakistan. However, one older sister remains in India. She keeps the family history alive. My desire is to have her record that oral history. Sadly I wasn’t able to get that from my Nana, she passed away and all I have are tidbits of stories and lots of jumbled memories.
I also have the bitter feeling that I had not taken the time to talk to Nana before she passed away. One of the reasons I don’t grow my beards is because the last thing she told me was she didn’t like my beard and for her sake to stay clean shaven. Since her passing I haven’t had the heart to grow my beard. I was so militant about growing a beard when she was alive, it was how I got on her nerves and I loved to illicit her reaction. But with her passing and my not having talked to her because I kept other work priorities higher on my list, I just couldn’t grow a beard, no matter how much I try.
For me this 12 years since September 11, 2001, I remember the lesson the victims families have taught all of us. I want to share this video done by the Story Corps and encourage you all to take a moment and say the right things, make your relationships meaningful and part company with the right feelings. Its so important.