On Sunday morning, the 11th, I saw a friend of mine that I had celebrated my birthday with the night before. She asked me if I felt a lot older, even though it was only a day. I told her that I did feel older, but not because of one day. It was because of ten years.
I was dreading the build up to the ten year anniversary of 9-11. Living in New York City, I knew that it would be inescapable. On the news, in the paper, and even on Nickelodeon and WFAN you could not escape it. Ten years later the emotions are still raw. I decided to face it head on and not try to escape it. I saw family and friends, shared memories of the day, and reflected with admiration on how people have been able to rebuild their lives.
We have been through a terrible tragedy. We have had two unending wars, financial collapse and a growing division in society. But as I thought about the last ten years I came to the realization that despite all the hardships of the past ten years they have also been some of the best years of my life. The simple reason: my family.
My oldest daughter was 1 1/2 on 9-11. My second daughter was born a little more than a year later. They have given me joy, solace and a reason to get up with a smile on my face everyday. As the world and the business I am in changed and collapsed, they have given me meaning and purpose. Being a dad has been more important than anything.
Ten years later, they still need me. However, the first signs of independence are showing. Soon they will be venturing out on their own, becoming more and more self sufficient. More and more grown up. While they start to learn how to be on their own, I will have to remember how to be on my own, with out them.
It dawned on me that on the twentieth anniversary of 9-11 my wife and I will be alone for the first time in 21 years. We will have just dropped off our girls at college, my youngest for her Freshman year. Even though it is ten years away, it feels so close. It also filled me with a sense of accomplishment and hope. Despite everything, we have survived the decade after 9-11 and have a great family to show for it.
I went into this past weekend dreading it, and came out of it inspired. It was cathartic and life affirming. I woke up on September 12, 2011 and it felt as if a great weight had been lifted off my chest. I am excited about and bullish on what the next ten years will bring.