I’ll never forget how I felt this day 15 years ago as an American, a firefighter and as a father — and how each held its own kind of hurt that has never completely healed.
But of the three, being a father watching the sparkle in my then six-year-old daughter’s eyes noticeably fade just a bit continues to be the memory that lingers most. Each year on this day, I post this in memory of those innocent lives that were lost, as well as for the loss of innocence we all experienced in some way or another…
My alarm clock went off the same as it always did back then, coming to life with the morning news — my preference over the annoying, high-pitched alternative of chatter. Instinctively, I swatted the snooze button and bought myself another seven minutes of sleep.
In the years since, I’ve thought a lot about those seven minutes, and how the simple push of a button postponed a bitter reality for just a little longer. When the news came on again, word of the first airliner crashing into the World Trade Center stopped my hand just short of another seven minutes of blissful ignorance — a time span that now seems like an eternity.
Lying there, listening to the details, I regretted not pushing the button one more time.
A hundred more times.
In that same moment, I also understood that the impassive gaze of terrorism could only be averted for so long, and that, eventually, I’d have to meet it — along with the questioning gaze of my daughter. Continue reading