Eleven long years since we last spoke the night before that fateful morning. Eleven years since your life was tragically cut short. Eleven years of a life without you.
Somehow, it feels even longer.
This morning, the anniversary of your death feels strangely unlike those of the past. Why is that? Does time really heal all wounds? Can it truly alleviate the pain that reason cannot? Is my memory really losing hold of all those cherished details that are so significantly and transcendentally important? Could I possibly be failing to remember everything about a person who was so much a part of my lfe?
Is this what it means to get over the loss of a loved one?
I spoke to your mom last night, Andy. We talked about how we wanted to stop using 9/11 as a way to mourn you. It's too painful. Of course we remember you every day but maybe we should stop using this day as a reminder. Maybe we should move on with our lives. Maybe we need to start letting go of the past.
But can we really ever? Is that even possible? How does one even do that?
I sometimes think about what if 9/11 had never happened. How different would the world be today? The days and months following the collapse of the Twin Towers brought out the best in people, and for a brief time, I felt as if we, as a nation, were united in our desire for peace, our respect for the dead, and our love of country. Americans came together without pride or prejudice, and the rest of the world stood by us in solidarity and support.
Eleven years later, I feel like we've lost something. America feels different. It's a fractured and contentious place. Perhaps that's due to the fact that this is an election year but I deeply miss that spirit of community, humility, and grace that swept both America and the world.
More importantly, when I think about what if 9/11 had never happened, I think about how much richer my life would be with you still in it.
I imagine meeting you and Kyle in Central Park and tossing a football around before grabbing dinner at his mom's house. I picture you taking the Peanut out for an afternoon of shopping and ice cream on a Saturday afternoon. I envision us hanging out at the beach, cooking dinner, and having marathon discussions about life, love, and how much we hate the NY Knicks.
But most of all, Andy, I always see us laughing.
It's one of the great ironies in my forty-three years on this planet that, more than anyone else whom I've ever known, you were the one who always taught me that life was short and that we were put here briefly to enjoy it and live it as fully as possible. Whenever I was depressed, you were always the one to cheer me up. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, I could always count on you.
I was only thirty-two years old when I lost you yet, eleven years later, I feel that the lessons your friendship taught me affect me even today. You showed me lessons about life that I will never forget. You taught me how to be a father. You taught me how to be a spouse. You taught me how to be a friend.Your impact on my life will never be replaced. Nor will it ever be forgotten.
I love and miss you terribly, brother.
I always have and I always will.
Forever your friend,
Andrew Golkin, 1970-2001