New York City
September 15, 2001

Dear Brother,

It's a shame I couldn't be there for your birthday. It's a shame I missed your smile, your candid embrace, your lasting warmness and care, your beautiful face. It's a shame I wasn't able to give you a call, to hear your voice, to speak to you as I always do, to tell you about my problems, my worries. It's a shame I couldn't have your words of wisdom spoken to me in soft tones and perfectly crafted sentences. It's a shame we are away and apart from each other.

But I am happy nonetheless. I'm happy for being alive, for being able to walk out on the street and feel the sunshine lay down on my skin. I'm happy and blessed because I can still write this to you, and know that you will touch this sheet of paper with the very hands that for so many times protected me when I was younger. I'm happy because my neighbor came home yesterday and said Hello to me, something he had never, ever done. I'm happy because I saw a little girl holding an American flag with pride and honor and hope and uncorrupted love, a sincere, honest to God love. I'm happy the fighter planes are hovering around my head, like metallic angels looking after me from above. I'm happy I haven't lost hope, I'm happy to be American.

And yet, I am also utterly sad, a deep sorrow that finds its way through my body, penetrating every part of it: my heart, my mind, my limbs, my mouth, my tongue, my fingers, my lungs, my hair, my stomach, my bones, my muscles, my very skin. My whole self is numb, living on in what Henry David Thoreau once called "quiet desperation." I feel like a heavy burden has been placed on my shoulders, like a dark cloud has parked itself over my being, like I have been shackled to the ground with the strongest of chains. Often times, I want to scream. I smoked many, many cigarettes. I prayed. I succumbed to tears, and I have been angry; an anger that follows me like a shadow. I've developed this uncontrollable urge to find someone to blame, to find a logical, plausible explanation to the fact that, in no more than one hour, more than 5,000 lives went silent just blocks away from where I live. Forever silent.

I mourn.

I lit candles on the street. I sang our national anthem with hand on heart, I have experienced shivers sent down my spine, and goose bumps of pride and horror. I have experienced fear and hatred and compassion and desire of revenge and an unabated longing for peace. I have been to church, and I have shaken the hand of the priest. I have stared at the image of the dying Jesus – his weary yet compassionate, half-opened eyes looking down on me from the cross. His bleeding heart and the long nails carved deeply into his hands and feet. His long hair draped over his dangling shoulders. So much pain. And I asked Him many, many times over: Why? But there's no answer.

There're just facts.

And the fact is that looking down on seventh avenue, I can no longer see those tall, wonderful twin buildings. The fact is that more than 300 firefighters and policemen have died. The fact is that someone, somewhere had the ruthlessness to plot such an evil plan to destroy and kill so many human beings. The fact is that President Bush says we're at war. The fact is that we will fight, and we'll probably kill, and be killed. Again. The fact is that although we try to comfort ourselves with religion, or logic, or faith, nothing – nothing – is going to bring back those who have lost their lives. The fact is that everything is going to be different from now on. The fact is that we just don't know, none of us knows, what's going to happen next, what's going to be made of this tragedy.

So I hope.

That's all I can do. I hope that some force – earthly or heavenly – illuminate the path of those making decisions. I hope that I can write many more letters like this to you. I hope we'll grow very old, and be able to laugh at each other's falling hair and growing bellies. I hope I'll have children. I hope to be able to wake my wife every morning with a gentle kiss. I hope the families of those who lost people at the World Trade Center can find comfort, solace and peace. I hope the streets of New York remain filled with culturally diverse people, and that our Christmas tree holds red and blue and white blinking lights this year. I hope I can buy my overpriced coffee in the morning, and carry it with me to work like a trophy, as I always do. I hope no one else dies.

I know that's a lot to hope for.

Maybe too much.

Just maybe.

I will always love you.


-- Me

Back to Index