Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

To Remember

This evening I listened to an interview with a mother who had lost her daughter in Tower 1.

Her concern was that as time went on people would forget what happened on 9/11 and people would forget her daughter. I understand this, as time moves forward, I think about Samantha everyday but not everyone does. As the years go by will people forget our amazing little girl?

I did not know this woman’s daughter but I do remember that day and the days after. On 9/11 I sat in a waiting room about to start my new consulting job in Summit, New Jersey. When my manager came to get me, the first tower had been hit.

His wife worked in Tower 7 and was on her way into the office.

Summit was a commuter city and had been hit hard. The cars at the train station had marks on the tires as to how many days the car had been parked.

1 day

2 days

3 days

Was this person coming back?

I was stuck in Summit for 10 days. I didn’t know anyone aside from my new co-workers who were grieving lost family and friends. On Friday, I took the train into the city to see my friends, Scott and Laura, to get some type of human interaction, to hug and cry.

I will never forget the acidic smell of the city. The dust that had settled on everything. The posters! The posters of missing loved ones everywhere, papered through Grand Central Station. Lovely, sad pictures of people enjoying their lives, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons….people who were now missing.

I will never forget the prayer rally in the park five days after the towers went down; Buddhist monks chanting, drums beating, people singing and lighting candles, people praying, people trying to make sense of what just happened only to realize, there is no sense.

Ten years later, I can still smell that smoke when I think about that day.

I did not know this woman on the radio. I did not know her daughter but I do know the events of that day are forever in my mind. They have helped to form the person I am today.

And for me, as another grieving mom, I realized that even though people don’t think about Samantha everyday, to many people, who she was, has changed who they are; her sweet gummy smile, her tenacious spirit, the mystery of her tired body and her lovable personality.

Perhaps remembering isn’t always thinking about the event but how what happened changed us, made us think of the world differently, hold our loved ones closer, be less quick to judge. I can’t think of a better way to memorialize a life.

2 thoughts on “To Remember”

  1. I will never forget meeting you and Sammer for the first time. A ray of light beaming towards me on the Clayton Campus in such a hazy time in my life. Not much is vivid from that phase but that moment stands out. The therapy equipment that decorated the rooms in front of the couch we sat on is even burned to the brain.They have red hair, we decided. Seemed a better topic to chew on than seizures. XO's Mamma


  2. This idea of re-membrance–to re-member something is to re-piece it together, to allow the memory of someone or something to utterly transform our interpretation, is the stuff of the divine, methinks. “Do this in re-membrance of me.” To allow memory to shape, to continue to change and establish us as kind, more evolved people, is, as you say, the best memorial of all. How I love you, my name-sharer.


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