The tenth anniversary of 9/11 has passed. The thoughts I had ten years ago, five years ago, and even last year have changed. I taught my son to commemorate heroes, not to put them on pedestals but honor them still as the brave human beings they were – not gods or becoming someone’s personal angel. I wanted him to understand the human condition in what it surmounts to the words Courage, Bravery, Honor, Service, and Sacrifice and how each word is defined by action.
When Tim was little, I planned to take him to Ground Zero to see how it had changed from being a massive crime scene to becoming a memorial built on hallowed ground. He understood. What the children of 9/11 experienced, Tim feared – losing a parent to an act of violence. He feared losing me despite my assurances that I would come home. Tim saw seven Philadelphia Police Officers funerals and attended the funeral for Gary Skerski; Gary’s daughter attended Tim’s grade school.
I wrote Timothy’s Strength at the urging of a friend when I told of my Tim’s words and his assurance that “…it will be okay.” The story has become more then a tribute to the fallen knights of St. Florian and St. Michael; it became my anthem for the old soul my son possessed. I spent 9/11 outside of New York City. I watched the some of the tribute until the televised coverage was too much for me to handle. The roll call of the departed sparked the memory of Tim sitting up in his bed – staying awake until I walked in the front door. He was shielded from the images that the news media transmitted to virtually every television set in the world. The sight of bodies falling from the upper floors of the towers, the smoldering field where Flight 93 crashed possibly upside down and nose pointed to the Earth as the passengers fought the hijackers, to the flames gutting the Pentagon.
All Tim knew was that Daddy was at work and bad guys were trying to destroy the world. In his imagination, my partners and I were hunting down the bad guys and bringing them to jail. He wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t live up to what his imagined heroics projected. Tim was simply happy his daddy was home, safe and unharmed.
This past April, Tim and I drove past the site where the foot prints of the tower were being transformed into pools of reflection. I promised him we would go before the spring of 2012 and pay respect. On May 17, 2011, at 4:03, those promises and plans became moot. I was faced with my own 9/11. I lived through my own Rapture that next Saturday as Tim was escorted by members of the Philadelphia Highway Patrol to his final resting place. My world and heart was shattered; my mind barely clung to sanity. My son became my hero ten years ago. I didn’t think of those that sacrificed their lives ten years ago on that dreadful September Tuesday…I thought of my son who was killed on a horrifying Tuesday in May – almost four months before. My sense of tribute has been altered. I only hope Tim understands as he looks down from Heaven.