Project 2,996

A little background about this project can be found here. Someone set up a blog that had a list of all the ones that were noted to have lost their lives on September 11, 2001. People were invited to take to their blogs writing a proper tribute for an individual they would be given upon signing up.  Over time things change people forget or let go of their love and habits of writing – when recently searching the blogs that had devoted a post to an individual, many were found to be either broken or dead links leaving the list at a dwindling 900 individuals that had their virtual tribute still in existence. Given that yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of this unimaginable tragedy the same person to initially have these tributes written 10 years ago did just that again – to refresh these individuals tributes and have their last memory put to the world wide web once again.

I didn’t even hesitate to contribute – this is such a minute thing to do to give back – but means so much to so many. Many news feeds buzzed with the question ” Do you remember exactly what you were doing when you found out about the 9/11 attacks?”…and to be quite honest I vaguely do. I remember being in history class (ironic) at John Metcalf Junior High in Burnsville, MN. I remember our teacher answering the phone looking up at us and then turning around to turn the tv on – he went out into the hall to tell the other teachers I imagine. We sat that day and just watched – there was no learning – there was only listening, on that day I remember time truly standing still. When one kid in my history class raised his hand to ask the teacher if we were going to actually learn something today (this kid was a real asshole) the teacher looked him dead in the eye and said, “yes – watch the TV’s – you are living history right now, you will forever remember this day when all the other knowledge you’re taking in now has faded.” That was the moment I started to recognize the true severity of the situation.

Andrew Steven Zucker

Andrew Steven Zucker was a 27 year old lawyer who had grown up in North Massapequa, was even known in his younger years by his loved ones to be the ‘family lawyer’ he seemed to have a strong will about him. “He was loud and outgoing. He got on everyone’s nerves four times a day, but did something five times a day to make up for it. ” Zuckers brother Stuart had said.
Andrew had attended Binghamton University and Cordozo Law School was stuck in a decision to move to Israel but ultimately thought he’d stay in the US and become a lawyer. Zucker helped win a case against the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of a Pakistani immigrant that set a precedent for the interpretation of eligibility for the earned income credit. After law school, Zucker spent a year at the Bronx district attorney’s office and then practiced briefly with a firm in New Jersey before joining Harris Beach.

Harris Breach had an office in the second tower of the world trade center and said that it was a symbolic location for them “you could see forever, and we thought we’d be here forever, we were on top of the world”. Zucker wasn’t supposed to be at the office that morning, he and his wife had decided to vote at the mayoral elections that morning but due to his wife not sleeping well he left for work to let her continue sleeping and told her “we’ll vote later in the day” when she called him at work.
In the office when the first plane struck at 8:46 am, Zucker knew that there was a small dwindling window of time to where they needed to get out of there. Being advised to stay put and not leave their offices Zucker had known otherwise due to firefighter training done in his earlier years when he was a volunteer firefighter. Zucker was said to walk through the halls yelling to everyone to get out now – get to the stairwell get to the nearest exit they could immediately.

Due to the amount of deaths Harris Beach suffered that day, now known as the largest human loss a law firm has experienced at once, the company hired a private investigator to help them understand why some of the employees there that day lived. The investigator could not determine which floor the employees were on when they died but it was between the stairs and the 78th floor, at 9:06am – when the second plane hit the second tower taking out floors 77 through 85.
When asked by the investigator how those people were able to make it out alive and others weren’t, seven people had said that the only reason they got out was because of Andrew Zucker and his courage, he lost his life because he went back to the 85th floor to make a ‘final sweep’ accounting that everyone had evacuated the floor.

Andrew and his wife Erica had suffered a loss several months earlier in the Spring of 2001 just weeks before their first child was due – they had learned they lost the baby. The silver lining in the wake of the horrible events that September day and the sadness from losing their first child were woven into the very reason Erica couldn’t sleep that morning…She was expecting, and Andrew had known as well – however, they were the only ones to know, they had yet to tell their families.
Erica delivered a beautiful healthy boy in February of 2002, named appropriately, Andrew Jason Zucker – keeping his fathers namesake alive. Since then Erica has remarried with Andrews family in attendance, and had a second child along with two stepchildren – she remains close with Andrews family and keeps her son Andrew close to his fathers family as well.

To say time heals all wounds would be routine – to say that it’s going to hurt for quite sometime and who ever actually knows if it gets better…but there comes a day where it does get easier – the beauty in this is that their son Andrew came to existence – he still sees his dad in every one of his family members and is told quite often how similar he looks and acts to his own father, he may not have known his dad but he sure does now. To the Zucker family and everyone linked to this passing of Andrew – I offer my deepest condolences and wish you brighter days while everyone’s soul finds peace. Speak of him often and know that he is never gone forever, for his memory lives in each of you every single day.

→ The reason I chose Andrew Zucker for this was because first off he was on the list of un commemorated – and I wanted him to have his proper space be given. Second he was very last on the list – I know what it’s like to be accounted for last in class due to a last name leaving you at the back, but I wanted him and his family to know that it was important to me today to make sure he was first for something – doing so everyday he is a first forethought to his family. Third – his age, he was 27 when he left this world, that is close to my age. Fourth – his story, the fact that he lost his own life in hopes of helping others weather he knew he was going to make it out or not – he went back in for the better of someone else and their families that is a true everyday hero. Finally I chose Andrew because like so many lost that day I don’t want him to be forgotten – I don’t want anyone to overlook that day for centuries to come, I witnessed history as a child and I’m speaking on behalf of that history as an adult, because one day when his son grows up I want him to have constant references to who daddy was and how much he loved him even though he wasn’t born yet. Andrew Zucker thank you for your contributions to society and your contributions that tragic day – although I have not had the pleasure of ever meeting you or your loved ones, their worlds are better places for having known you. Thank you, Be well, and God Bless.

May we forever find peace within our hearts for the hearts and souls of others and may this world live on to know the beauty of selflessness and a better tomorrow from a stronger today.

Adolescence In All Its Glory

I think of you when my mind least expects it, it’s at these moments my heart speaks louder than anyone in the room; reminding me who’s really in charge. I can’t help but twinge when your distant memory floats across my mind; because it does more than just that: my arm hairs begin to rise and stand on end, I begin to get goosebumps, my brows furrow into a formation to hopefully forget this feeling sooner than it came, while my nose crinkles in a way to say this is almost a little more painful than I could have imagined. Moreso than any pain that comes across my body in the appearance of an outer form, is the painful strike that hits my heart, like a hammer to a nail trying to mend the pieces back together; striking said nail head on seems to pose its challenges, for this nail is driving itself sideways into my heart; in such a painful manner that its hard to forget.

No its not hard to forget you, you see that’s where the pain comes from: kiss me and smile for me; tell me that you’ll wait for me – hold me like you’ll never let me go. These words sit on an old worn out shelf in my mind that has been collecting dust for a while now – finding cracks and tears in the phrases and sentences that once helped me sleep at night keeping me comfort all the times you were away; hard to remember then, I pray every night before I dream that I can just forget them. Why is it impossible to erase you when I’ve worked so hard at it, why can’t I just feel nothing when your name comes up in conversations?I spend moments each day praying to the universe that it might send you back to me.

For this love story can’t write itself with only one character on such a bold subject of love. Intrigued I find myself to be when reflecting on the challenge it is for us to ignore our feelings for each other – to pretend like we don’t feel it, like ignoring a full moon beneath a cloudless night sky. What would happen if we just let ourselves love? Allowed ourselves exactly what we deserve and gave in to this undying feeling of eternal gratitude for another human being.

Carrying The World

Recently a family friend of mine had become pregnant after many months of trying…we were all so happy; her and her husband deserved it – they are such wonderful people. The pregnancy went off without a hitch, and with each growing day there was a little more growth to that beautiful belly – see I happen to think pregnant women are one of the most beautifully sexy creatures out there. Sure they feel like sweaty whales, but that’s how I feel on a daily basis, and I assure you, I’m not pregnant. Pregnant women are so beautiful to me because they are truly carrying around the world with them…sure there’s a baby in there, but did you ever wonder who that baby is going to turn out to be? The next president of the USA, a world leader, a diplomat, a writer, an artist, an engineer, someone who has little to nothing but turns ruin into something completely redeeming and admirable, someone who could change the world…pregnant women are doing a whole lot more than carrying a baby. Our family friend was in her final trimester and loving it, giving into cravings, seeing how cute she looked pregnant, the baby showers, the belly rubs, and all the excitement for the little bundle to arrive. Then came the day – it was go time, since we are only family friends and not family we waited patiently, which is hard for me to do. The phone rang, it was a restricted number…”Hello, it’s Meg, is it time?”…

Upon arriving to the birthing wing of the hospital there was great sadness radiating from a room where a great amount of joy should be…I slowly walked into the room and glanced over to see the sadness in the parents faces. I lowered my camera, for taking ‘newborn’ pictures wasn’t going to be on the schedule for the day…I was supposed to take what I like to call ‘ripe’ pictures – when there’s a brand new baby, fresh out of the womb, still ripe and wrinkly. That day I learned the true definition and understanding of what it meant to have a stillborn baby. When the family and friends had left and were done consoling this couple, they pulled me aside and asked if I would mind still taking pictures before the doctors had to take her away…I have never felt more honored then at that moment. I tearfully obliged, for I knew the importance and weight these pictures were to hold for years to come…this would be the only lasting memory of a child, grandchild, cousin, niece, loving little human being.

I told the couple I would let them clean up and I would be back in an hour or so if that worked for them, they nodded in simultaneous agreement – shock barely leaving their faces for emotion to take place. I exited quietly as I came to a nearby coffee shop and wrote the following entry, it was in that room that I realized if I ever do choose to reproduce, it is truly a gift, a miracle, and such a beautiful experience that although they didn’t ever actually meet their daughter while her heart was beating, they already knew so much about her and knew that she was going to be great someday. While I buzzed around the room, doing my job, just letting them relax while I turned on music and do whatever they felt necessary for the photos – this is a type of shoot I’ve never done before; and I honestly had no clue what to do. I simply said “treat Emma like she hasn’t gone yet, how would you like your daughter to see you? Speak to her the way you would have liked to, because no matter what your beliefs or faith, she can hear you right now.” The couple smiled and I began to capture what will be prints that will forever grace the walls of their home, the hearts of their family, and their minds for many years to come. I’m glad I had the job of standing behind the camera for there was not a dry eye in the room and it was just the four of us, I have never seen so much love and energy flow from two loving humans into their little one that was already looking down from above. I wish them all the worlds happiness, and comfort while they journey down their path of grieving and healing – I also thank them for opening my eyes that day to what a blessing a baby is, and ‘its time’ doesn’t always mean the time is now…I wrote the following in honor of Emma, you are a gem, so beautiful that your light will forever shine for decades to come, your mommy and daddy love you very much, but you already knew that.

  • As my child, my flesh and blood, I vow to love, respect and honor you all the days of your life. I promise to not raise my voice in anger towards you, but instead speak softly of my advice and guidance in an effort to raise you up into the person you’re going to be. I vow to never take your love for granted, I will forgive quickly and learn from you new things. I vow to never, ever raise my hand to you, unless it is an outstretched arm with my hand for you to grab when you stumble, even fall in life. I will pick you up, dust you off, wipe away your tears and send you toward greatness once again. I vow to always love and appreciate you for all you are worth to not only me, but the rest of the world. I promise I will always and forever believe in you, I will guide you the best I can, but ultimately the decision is yours for the making, and whatever that decision may be, I will stand behind you with whole-hearted support, because I know you will be great. I vow to always be truthful with you and will expect the same in return; I promise that, although at times, you may not feel like it, your best will always be good enough for me. I promise to never speak too softly to you, but know it’s because I’m your mother and it’s out of my deep seeded love for you. Although we may not always have a lot, we will always have one another, enough to get by, and an abundance of love that will keep us going when life gets hard, which it will, but I will be right next to you when the struggles get to be too much to bear. When the load is too heavy and you struggle to stand, you begin to tire from the fight, I will be there for you to lean when you cannot stand tall anymore. You will be beautiful both inside and out. I know you’ll have drive and determination that this world has been needing, you will be both bold and daring, a natural-born leader that I pray will use their strengths for good. You will be stubborn like your mother, but emotional and compassionate as well. I realize you haven’t been born yet, or even planned. But I anticipate the moment I will be able to walk around carrying the world with me. I can’t wait to meet you little one, I am already so much in love with you…