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.

 

 

A clear blue sky

Oh, September . . . you are a hard month.

I hadn’t intended to do a post on 9/11 today.  Though, the fact of the day was on my mind as soon as I woke.  I acknowledged the sadness tied to the date and then checked my email.  There was one from my brother concerning festive plans for the weekend and I engaged myself in thoughts of a happier nature.

Later, while drinking coffee and glancing at the news on the internet, I thought of it again.  I looked at photos of the various commemorations, read some of the comments and anecdotes from people who were there or experienced a near miss.  Their words and the images filled the space I had meant for other things.

I am floored by the enormity of our collective grief. Almost everyone, it seems, knows someone who was directly impacted by that day.

My husband’s cousin and his wife both worked on Wall street.  She worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower of the World Trade Center, while he was in a building across the street.  The sky was clear and blue on the morning of September 11, 2001, and because it was their first wedding anniversary, they decided to take the day off.

A guy I knew growing up in tiny-town northern New York was voted Most Likely to Succeed when he graduated from high school.  He was a sweet, smart guy with unassuming charm.  Years later his son succeeded in snagging a dream job on Wall Street.  Ironically, also at Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower.  His name was Shannon Lewis Adams, and he did not have an anniversary to prod him into skipping work that day.

I’ve been in New York City many times in the last twelve years.  But I could not bring myself to make the trip to that painful place in lower Manhattan until last November.  I was stunned by how different it looked.  The makeshift walls surrounding the site, the construction still going on.  I think that it will be beautiful one day.  On that afternoon, though, it felt desolate.  My ears ached from the cold wind that was blowing, but I found what I was looking for.  

I have nothing wise or special to offer up today.  Just a tugging in my heart and a name. The name of a boy I didn’t even know, who was probably sweet and smart and unassuming like his dad.

That is all.

shannon adams