Thursday, September 10, 2009


What were you doing on September 10, 2001?

Sure you remember where you were and what you were doing on September 11. But what about the day before? Within days after the towers fell, I couldn’t remotely remember what I did on September 10.

At 8:46 a.m. on 9/11 my daughter Sarah was at Ground Zero. She was on a bus that had just pulled up to the base of Tower One. That’s when she heard the explosion. Looking out the window, she watched a truck lift off the ground from the impact. Fifteen minutes later she saw the second plane strike, and much of the horror that followed.

For the next 90 minutes I didn’t know if she was alive or dead. Finally, at 10:30 my wife got the phone call we were waiting for. Sarah was safe, in the middle of the Hudson River, on a ferry bound for Weehawken, NJ, crying as she watched the smoke rising above lower Manhattan. It took her two hours to walk from Weehawken to Hoboken. But, as she told me later, at least the fashion gods were smiling that day. She was wearing flats.

Her name was posted on a survivor list. Our family, unlike so many thousands of others, would get to hug, and hold one another, and say I love you on September 12.

My life, as so many others, changed after 9/11. I had actually just completed a year’s sabbatical and was setting up interviews so I could rejoin the rat race. I decided I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready. I like to think of myself as a recovering rat.

I had been writing my first novel during that sabbatical, but I put it down, thinking, Who needs another murder mystery at a time like this?

I adopted a new approach to life. Live every day like it’s September 10.

That doesn’t mean live for the moment, for tomorrow you may die. You may well be alive tomorrow, but the world as you know and love it can change in the blink of an eye. I don’t remember a single thing about September 10, 2001, and I don’t want any more days in my life to pass as anonymously as that one did.

Little by little, like the rest of America, I came back from 9/11. I was lucky enough to find Vitamin Angels, a charity that saves the lives of millions of children around the world by providing them with the vitamins and nutrients that we take for granted. I still work with them today. At some time I’ll tell you a lot more about what we do.

In 2002, I went back to that novel. Much to my amazement it was published. I’m now finishing my fourth book, and some of the people who read them have told me I’m pretty funny.

So you’re probably wondering who wrote this piece. What happened to the guy who makes us laugh? Sorry. Every now and then the closet philosopher gets loose. Since 9/11 I’ve managed to live every day like it’s September 10th. And what better time to time to pass on the message than today?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call my daughter and hug my new dog.