What I remember is September 12th. Beanie had a doctor’s appointment in Queens, so I was driving west on Long Island, staring at the distant smoke that still rose in heavy plumes where the Towers had been. They were ghost towers now, made of smoke and ash. On the way out of my neighborhood I had to pass our town’s train station. On any other weekday it would have been packed full at that time of day, but on this day it was almost deserted.
Later I learned that there were thirteen cars left in the parking lot of that train station after everyone else finally made it home on that terrible day. Thirteen cars. Thirteen dads. Thirteen holes in the hearts of families like ours.
Beanie is five and a half years old now. If her dad had been one of those thirteen drivers, she would not remember him. There would be no Wonderboy and no Rilla.
I don’t know their names, any of them, but today I am thinking about those thirteen men who parked at the station one morning just like any other, and didn’t get back in their cars at the end of the day. Those men, and their families, and those thirteen empty cars.