On 9/11/2001, we lost our home. I was dropping my children, then five and seven, at their school, just a few blocks from the Twin Towers. Our home was even closer, and we had to move away for a year. It was terrifying and insane. Our apartment was contaminated, as we had left our south facing windows open, and almost everything was lost.
The most upsetting losses after 9/11 were my children’s keepsakes. I had all of their baby blankets, and stuffed animals, and special clothes. My parents had never been “savers”, and I wanted my children to have these things later in life, to pass along to their children, or just to look at, and possibly remember. These things, I thought, would remind them of how much I have always loved them both.
I was able to salvage some items from their early years. In my basement storage unit, I had their baby books, which I had painstakingly updated from the day each of them was born. I had photos, report cards, awards, all of their special art projects and schoolwork. They were all in cardboard boxes, at the very bottom of our storage bin in Western Soho. They were all drenched with water last week when Hurricane Sandy hit our neighborhood.
For the past four days, since our power was restored, we have emptied everything out of our basement and brought what could possibly be salvaged up to our apartment. Every flat surface has been covered with stories, and photos, and first birthday cards. Much has been completely destroyed, and is now in the trash. What I have been able to save is mostly faded and warped, colors and words running together.
I am heartsick.
I know that many fared so much worse than we did. I am very grateful that we did not lose our homes, or our lives, as so many others did. My heart goes out to all of them. But I am still upset. The “real stuff” does not matter to me, but these reminders of my children’s lives from birth through middle school, feel significant to me.
My prayers go out to everybody who is still displaced and without power, to those who lost more. The world is going crazy.