I’ve heard friends say that this past week of being inundated with 9/11-anniversary footage and commentary has been overwhelming. I can more than empathize. As the co-author of Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit from 9/11 Survivors, I spent close to two years steeped in interview footage of those who had been directly affected by 9/11 testifying to their experiences of great, unthinkable loss and slow, but sure recovery. The book is a companion to a film of the same name, which premieres at 9 p.m. (EST) on Sunday on Showtime, and both move away from the sensationalistic images of the planes flying into the twin towers and political debate about wars and terrorism. Instead, they focus directly on the stories of individual human beings—in pain, in love, and in recovery.
It turns out that even when your grief evolves within the context of a national tragedy, it is still private and, in that sense, universal in so many ways. We all lose. We all have to pick ourselves up after loss. I learned a lot about grief from the survivors I wrote about, but I learned even more about resilience. Here are a just a few of those precious insights. Keep reading »
“It was like I had to do something serious, something to cause a rift, that we couldn’t come back from.”
That was my friend Caitlin*. She stopped me dead in my tracks. We were walking off brunch last Sunday afternoon, a brunch filled with sharing our mutual dating tales and reminiscing about our past relationships that brought us to where we are today. Caitlin started telling me for the first time about her ex-boyfriend, a guy she had been with for four years in her late teens and early-20s. They’d fallen in love, moved in together and settled down seemingly happily. Then Caitlin started to feel anxious. She was too young to settle down. She wanted to “go out.” She wanted to have more life experiences that didn’t necessarily involve him. It wasn’t that he was doing anything wrong; in fact, she still recalled him sweetly. So she started to sabotage the relationship, to hurt him so badly that they had to break up.
She had carpetbombed the relationship. She needed to carpetbomb the relationship. Keep reading »
As a mid-20s Manhattanite who leads a hectic life reliant on long hours, late evenings, and public transportation, I’ve often considered what would happen if I ever found myself in a threatening situation. Standing more than six feet tall in my favorite wedges, with fiery red hair and freckly arms, I’ve thought of myself less as a meek target and more as a ginger Amazon. Be warned, potential attackers: this chick is a former figure skater, a regular yogi, and a long-distance runner. Keep reading »
One of my mother’s favorite pastimes, aside from texting me my daily horoscope, is playing Yenta for her 30-something single daughter. Only she doesn’t try to set me up with nice Jewish boys. No, she prefers to shop for my potential suitors on reality television.
It all started after the guy who I thought was my soulmate dumped me suddenly. I was devastated. Perhaps in an attempt to sooth my pain, my mother vowed to find me another guy, someone better.
Keep reading »
When I married Jason on August 7, 2010, the same day as his 29th birthday, we didn’t feel that marriage would change our relationship dramatically. After five years of dating, we were true partners-in-crime who had traveled the world together, raised two small dogs as though they were our children, and enjoyed daily debriefing sessions involving beers and work dramas we called “Power Hours.” Classifying us as genuine best friends would be an understatement. However, when Jason was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on April 2, 2011, our world and our relationship was flipped upside-down. Everything changed — and I don’t just mean the obvious cancer hurdle. Striving to feel like a normal newlywed couple was, and still is, the most difficult challenge. Keep reading »
Recently, while sitting in the kitchen as a friend helped me dye my hair, the topic turned to death. We had both experienced close friends dying in our early twenties, and we were discussing how we dealt with it. I sat facing away from her, as she checked the foils on my hair. “I just have to think that they are in a better place, in heaven,” she said.
I thought about those words for a minute. Then I replied, “For me, it soothes me to know there is no after-life. Like, there is completion in it. They are gone, that was their life, and it’s okay. I don’t have to worry about seeing them again. It’s been helpful to really process their death and know they are gone.”
My friend was intrigued. “I’d never thought about it that way,” she said.
The truth was I hadn’t always either. I identify as an atheist now. But I haven’t always. Keep reading »