Bring them back, God, please bring them back. This is the essence of grief.
Not the secret we shared with a lover, divulged, or the song we composed, which the critics destroyed, or long holes torn in the silk of our souls. It’s the truth that you can’t bring them back.
I will never forget there are men who fight fires. Or faces that smiled in the hallways, the stairs. Or clerks who vowed to remain at their desks until even their bosses get out.
And I want you to bring them back now, God. I want you to please bring them back.
Here are some items we found. Look here. This shoe. This pen. This piece of debris. We cherish these heirlooms, we’ll trade them at once if only you bring them back.
One for our daughters and one for our sons. Our fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters. What is the reason you can’t bring them back?
I keep thinking it could have been any of us. It could have been any of us, and it was, and thank you for sparing me. Thank you for life. But life means less when you treat it like this, so why don’t you bring them back?
They say that no parent should bury a child, but children should get to remember their parents. You made that order, then broke it. I’m angry. Criticize my faith, but I’m pissed. They were innocent people going to work. Meetings and spreadsheets and eyes out the window, daydreaming trips. Anniversaries. Parties. Retirement. Then something happened.
Ten years ago, and who would believe it? It happened to you and it happened to me and something bright fell out of the sky and some ran up while many ran down and we lost them, and maybe we lost ourselves, I don’t know.
I just want them back.
Do you watch us rebuild? We want to rebuild. When something good breaks, you don’t throw it away. You fix it. Make it better and stronger. But why should mosaics go missing a stone? Why should the trees without roots bear fruit, while good trunks topple and caretakers, drunk, play cards with a bee and a fox in the shade, and leave us with nothing but stories?
Take my eyes, my hands, my feet – I don’t need feet, I’ve already stumbled. And yet, move forward we must.
And since we must, I will ask you again to please, God. Bring them back.
Damon DiMarco is the author of Tower Stories: An Oral History of 9/11 and My Two Chinas: The Memoir of a Chinese Counterrevolutionary with Baiqiao Tang (featuring a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama). His website is www.damondimarco.com.