Say His Name

shannon adams 2

I never met Shannon Lewis Adams, but I woke up this morning thinking about him.  I said his name out loud.

On September 11, 2001, he was twenty-five, about the age that my son is now.  A baby, still, his real life just beginning — the one his parents had spent years preparing him for. Nurturing him; encouraging him.  Loving him.

Fly, little bird, they may have thought then.  Go out into the world and see what there is to see.

And Shannon flew.  To a lofty building far from home.

I knew his father.  We grew up in the same small area in the Adirondack mountains of northern New York.  A place where most people are content to spend the whole of their lives.  Lewis Adams had a shy sweet smile that traveled  his face and was reflected in his eyes.  I’ll bet his son Shannon did, too.

I picture a space in the universe where all the lost smiles fled to that bright September day. They are there still.  We need just say a name and the space lights up with love.

Of all the names I know just the one.  But it’s enough.  One name, one face, one smile is all it ever takes to bring us to our knees.  And still we say the name.

Because we can.  Because we must.

 

 

41 thoughts on “Say His Name

  1. I too thought of Shannon. I personally did not know him, but I knew some of his family and that little corner of the Adirondacks. It still leaves a sick feeling in my gut when they start showing and talking of 9/11. May God help us all as we are going to need it as time goes on.

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  2. Now I remember you mentioning about this on that tragic day.. Thank you for your touching gentle words of reminding us. I knew the Adams family too. The grandmother’s name was Cloy Adams.

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    • It must have been horrifying for your wife to be there at that time. I went to the top of one the towers just once. After watching them come down the way they did, it was difficult for me to go in any building more than about 4 or 5 stories high.

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  3. Hi Mary – This is beautiful. Thank you so much for posting it. I did know Shannon. I sat by Shannon for 6 years of home room (Avery comes right after Adams), rode school buses, attended school dances, as well as chatted through our commencement in 1994. We weren’t super close, but we were 2 kids in a graduating class of 39. We were friends & we shared friends, sports, proms, plays, senior trip, and so much more in our years in Star Lake.
    We both moved to New York after graduating from college. Two country kids trying to make it in the big city. I remember, we met up at a bar in mid-town that year when we were both 25. It was so good to share our stories of our new jobs & our new lives far from our home.
    It would be such an understatement to say it’s just not fair what happened on September 11th of that year. It was indescribable seeing the events unfold that day. It’s devastating recalling your friend telling you just a few months before about his new job at Cantor Fitzgerald in the WTC.
    For the first few years after the tragedy there wasn’t a day that went by when Shannon or a member of his family didn’t flash into my mind. And now each year, more than once, I remember, because I can never forget.

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    • Thank you, Megan — for reading and sharing your story about Shannon. We had a relative who also worked for Cantor Fitgerald, but she didn’t go to work that day because it was her wedding anniversary.

      It must have been wonderful for you and Shannon at the time. Having grown up in Star Lake, I know how exciting it would have been for you both to be working and living in New York. I think everyone who grew up in the Clifton-Fine area knows and can relate. Which is why we can relate to the tragedy of Shannon’s death and take it personally. We are all Shannon.

      I hope that in the aftermath and passing years you have been able to find peace.

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  4. I’m not good with names, but I remember a young man who was about to be officially engaged to a woman from out town. He was maybe 25. His father was visiting him in NYC and was going to help him pick out a ring. But first he had to show his father the office where he worked. Both men, father and son, were lost. I wondered what it must be to lose a future. She knew he was going to propose and she was going to say yes.

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  5. Mary – you’ve brought the individual to the loss of so many.
    Thank you for this and for making me realize that to say a name out loud is to remember a person, with a live, who was loved.

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  6. Mary, dear, I will never forget coming home to Star Lake from a strangely quiet plane trip from Denver, one of the first ones when flights resumed. I’d heard nothing. I drove into town and, again, that strange strange quiet. No one was out. No car traffic. No businesses open. Quiet. I proceeded to my house, never seeing or hearing anyone or anything. And then I found out that the entire community was at the arena, mourning and honoring a young man I’d never heard of. Of course I knew the family, some of them quite well. I am so sorry I didn’t know him, but I know how much he was loved, and I love him too.

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    • I can’t remember when I found out that Shannon had been one of the people who died. Bob’s cousin (on his mother’s side) and his wife also worked in fianance in the area. The wife worked for Cantor Fitzgerald which is where Shannon worked. She and Bob’s cousin, Andrew, took the day off on a whim because it was their anniversary and such a beautiful day.

      I graduated with Lewis Adams, Shannon’s father. He was a sweet guy, very smart. Voted Most Likely to Succeed. It was delicious when Shannon got the job in New York, because, isn’t that the epitomy of success?

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  7. It is impossible to believe fourteen years separate us from that horrible day.

    I read this tribute of yours once, and then I took a breath and I tried to comment. To tell you that the gift you possess in those hands is mercury coupled with stardust. And then it occurred to me that the words you found for this originated in your soul. And I want to thank you for carrying it from there to here.

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    • Thank you, Cayman. Truly. You are so kind. (Will you come and sit on my shoulder and whisper these words in my ear when I doubt myself and my ability to adequately express myself?)

      I think I’ve been carrying these words, meager as they are, around for awhile. I had planned on writing about Shannon last September, but didn’t.

      It was a long time before I could bring myself to go to the WTC site — not until a few years ago — and then I went specifically looking for Shannon’s name. The place where I grew up, where Shannon grew up, is so small and so remote. You know every family in the area and all their relatives. You went to school with some of them.

      Also, I have Mohawk relatives who helped build the WTC, and who helped clean up the aftermath. My husband’s cousin-in-law worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, which is where Shannon was working. Because it was such an incredibly beautiful day, and her 1st wedding anniversary, she took the day off. That’s what gets me about that day: the what-ifs and near misses.

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  8. This is beautiful Mary. I have said Shannon’s name a few times since reading your words and the refrain is grounding and humbling. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. We should never forget the names of those whose lives were cut short by 9/11 . I knew no one who was lost on 9/11. I’ve been to Washington, D. C. and visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. Our lives were forever changed by the events of that day. S H A N N O N L E W I S A D A M S . May we never forget. Ever.

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