I found myself in the middle of chaos on September 11th, 2001, covering an impromptu evacuation of the U.S. Capitol as a Washington, D.C., based reporter. That emotional trauma came as I was struggling with an adjustment to life as a divorced father of two children. When the 10th anniversary of 9/11 came in 2011 I wanted to hide from the coverage, to forget that day. But I forced myself to write a personal essay that focuses on what that day came to mean to me as a father. That essay, “September 12th,” won the 2012 Sidney W. Vernick Award in Nonfiction from the literary journal fwriction: review.
As I reflected this morning on those we lost on 9/11 and those impacted by that day–who among us wasn’t–I realized that the process of writing that essay helped my healing process. I also realized that knowing that others can read the raw pain I share in that piece helps lessen the pain of it inside me.
The essay is titled “September 12th,” not “September 11th,” and I think the reason for that becomes clear once read. Tomorrow, September 12th, 2013, I’ll be driving my daughter Marisa down south for her first day of college. She is of course a character in “September 12th,” and it warms my heart to know the father and daughter in that essay will be sharing a new experience together twelve years later.
FYI: Should you choose to read “September 12th,” note that it is fairly lengthy, and sometimes the fwriction: review page needs to be refreshed once or twice to load properly.
I know you have your own way of honoring today, a day we will never forget.