These same blue windows…

I remember small drops of time, little moments that were given to my memory as if to say – this was real, this happened, and your generation will be better because of it.

There I sat, eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had strategically cut with my favorite star shaped cookie cutter – yes this was what we did before uncrustables, gasp. I sparingly picked at the peanut butter side knowing I had only put a sliver on the bread to justify and indulge in the jelly – smuckers always had it right. I try to maneuver the sandwich between each hand in perfect balance to keep it from spilling over onto the floor below me, I push the power button on the then “flat screen” television and listen to the familiar jingle as I turn my back knowing the TV’s bulbs are warming up.

I take my favorite seat on the couch in the middle, that perfect spot where you sink into the cushions as though they are embracing you in a hug, but when it comes time to stand up and be productive – you find yourself stuck and committed to the comfort of the energy. I wrap myself up in a blanket as a cool breeze from the April month whips into the living room through an open window (if you should know anything about me as a child, teen, adult, fetus – whatever…I love sleeping with the window open) I pull it tight around me and finish the sandwich I had just delightfully demolished. When I look up to the screen I am welcomed with the news station “sudden alert” update, I hear a weird beeping like it is trying to inform me of unsound and hasty weather – nope that’s not it, anyone from the midwest knows there is a small enough graphic presented with the information of which counties are hell over head in trouble with weather, the graphic that let’s you know “oh shit that’s me” but not quite big enough to know for sure.

I read the bottom screen as it scrolls rapidly…what even is a massacre – I know we’ve read about this in social studies but hell I wasn’t paying anywhere near the attention I should have been”…
“Columbine Massacre”
“Where is Columbine located – is this in relation to Christopher Columbus, should I call my mom since she isn’t home yet?”

I pass on that idea and decide to turn up the volume so I can actually hear what is going on and maybe connect a few dots here, see the extent of my vernacular is limited – my brain has only seen a world of one teacher a day, seven subjects, oregon trail, doctor quandry, everything was PC, schools had gym & recess, we had lunch tickets – not pins yet, we scraped our knees and it was ok to cry; the faculty didn’t call the parents as though someone was being beat, these were the days of no worry where we swung on the swingsets with our best friends to pass time, and played in trees while making secret clubs because we thought that was cool. We were in our self created bubble that was quite warm and quite safe – we were in the 4th grade, at recess we played four square – at lunch we ate tater tots…and liked them – at class we actually learned something – and at the end of the day actually enjoyed going home to see our parents whom we had missed from the long absence.
We weren’t old enough to breathe independence but we were close enough to smell it – we hadn’t even come close to the real world or anything associated with it, we didn’t hear of kidnappings and Jaycee Dugard, we didn’t know what a pedophile was or what their intent was at our softball games …we were safe, we were made safe, and we were constantly assured of our safety – in between any given tornado drill….which sucked if you had the smelly kid next to you or someone so anxious they farted – that was just awful.

Our world was small, and warm, we had love, and birthday parties, we didn’t pay taxes or work part time jobs, we enjoyed the freedom and fullness our miniscule world had to offer…until that cold day that reflected through an entire nation in grief on one brief moment in time that will never leave any of us the same

….

I will spare the disparaging details of that horrific day to anyone that is not informed, a fine tuned search entry guess through google should lead you straight away to the answer.
Fastforward 12 some years

And here I stand staring at these blue windows that so vividly kept repeating the reel on my TV screen that awful day – I recognize them but I don’t feel the same way my 4th grade self did…Yes I know I’m a different person, in a different time, and a different distance from that time long ago – but it doesn’t change what happened that day, the situation that forever changed the idea of what public high school meant to all of us, what our perception of safety was, and where we could feel comfortable/loved/and safe once again.
I breathe the air in deep and I close my eyes, I remember that picture of students bodies being dangled from these very windows – people lying on stretchers exactly where my feet were planted and loved ones mourning known losses within arms reach of me – we are in a different time, but that moment and those memories will never leave me; I will never forget these blue windows those scared faces, and all the selfless acts I read about at this very location. Columbine changed the history and knowledge of protection and safety for generations to come – and as I sit here typing this as my 23 year old self I know the truth’s and sadness of today’s society in which status is more important than characteristic – souls can be bought after beauty – and infamy can be attained in a single credit card swipe. I also know the atrocities in which our vision of safety has since been changed and formed – before that day the world was one, green, loved, happy; after that day, the world digressed and the evils took over – I unfortunately know who Jaycee Dugard is, I know what a war means, I relentlessly have to pay taxes more than I ever could have imagined, I know what a bomb threat is inside of the safe walls of school – I know what a national threat is, and I unfortunately know how many people’s lives can be lost in a short amount of time – the world we grew from on that unfortunate day has not become brighter, rather, a more cruel – dangerous – and scary place.

Staring at this beautiful memorial that has been erected in honor of those lost selflessly that day I am speechless, I am among other bodies that are reading alongside me and probably with me but I say nothing, I wander around while beads of sweat fall from my brow and I am silent – I feel moved. It’s nothing I can put into words I just feel completely, physically, emotionally moved – this place is no longer one of sadness, nor is it of joy – this place is a sacred ground that will be visited for decades to come – the unfortunate events that took place for this to be here will be in history books my children will read and I will explain to them a story very similar to the one you have just read, this place is at peace, I felt as though I could lie in the grass and take a nap, I felt as though I could hug the woman reading the stones to her son next to me, I felt whole – In some weird ass backwards way; the Columbine Massacre brought not only people together on such a deep emotional level, it moved a national to tears of regret, tears of sadness, and tears of sorrow; this single event shook the Earth in shock waves we weren’t even introduced to, because of this event I’m standing here today reading the bios of the beautiful lives lost all too soon.

I know not one of these names personally but as I continue reading onto the 3rd or 4th name and story I pull my sunglasses down to hide the tears that are flowing from places I didn’t know were there – I am conflicted with this feeling of wholeness and that memory of helplessness – I will never forget that day, nor the lives that were lost before there time.

Hug your loved ones, kiss your parents, and don’t wait until tomorrow to do what you can today.
M

 

This is what you see behind the school – as though you are looking at those hopeless blue windows, you turn your back and see such peace.

afterthought: My husband and I are now proud owners of a small townhome/apt 3 miles from Columbine High School – the peaceful calm feeling we both shared that day at the memorial has followed us to our new home not too far away – we couldn’t be more happy and whole in the blessings of our lives.

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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.