Four years ago yesterday, this was the view from our third-floor guest-room window, looking out across Prospect Park.
I had never before known precisely where the towers lay over the treeline, only that they were out there somewhere. This was always my soul-freshening window, with its vast swath of open Brooklyn horizon. From it, I've watched countless thunderstorms move in from the west, and smelled rain and lake and forest in the wind; gazed at the soccer players, gaudy dots of Brownian motion, after hours locked downstairs in my mother's struggle with walkers, wheelchairs, and pain; and sometimes, if a rocket climbed high enough, seen a few errant stars bursting from the Fourth of July fireworks.
I came straight to this window from the television set that morning because I truly believed that seeing the horizon, placid and unmarred, would awake me from this hideous and too-realistic dream. By the time I fetched my camera and pressed the shutter open, I no longer really understood whether I was dreaming or not.
Over the weekend, the Tribute in Light came back on, two cool blue beams shot straight up to the heavens at night from near Ground Zero. They will be lit at sunset tonight, too. (Thanks for this news from the September 11th Families Association.) I love those towers of light, for laying down another image over this one.
Remembering, then. The closest person of our acquaintance lost that day was neither friend or family. It was Dave Fontana of Park Slope's Squad One, the fireman father of one of my daughter's preschool buddies, and the husband of our "Mommy and Me" teacher, Marian Fontana. Marian was an aspiring performer with merry eyes and a mop of dark curls; her little guy spent every class in her lap, as did my little girl. I saw Dave only once, carrying their son on his big shoulders out of the dance studio; I briefly thought, "Cute fireman, great daddy...you go, girl, you deserve him!" The last time I saw Marian was in front of Dave's (empty) casket, where she accepted a rose from my daughter with a sweetly rueful smile; she was already emerging as an activist for the families involved. I will read her just-published book, A Widow's Walk: A Memoir of 9/11, to find out what has happened since; I know she has moved to Staten Island, and I wish her and Aidan, and Dave, every grace and blessing.
Sky of blackness and sorrow ( a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness ( a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear ( a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow ( a dream of life)
Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life ( a dream of life)
© Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP), The Rising, 2002