Shaun Powell: Remembering the best day I ever had

“My brother died on 9/11, but Sept. 10 stands out because I don’t remember it at all”

By Shaun Powell
ESPN New York

My daughter Victoria awakened early that Tuesday morning and put on a rose dress, the color of her mood. She was eager and also nervous, because it was her first day of pre-kindergarten, Christmas in September for a 3-year-old. Let’s go, daddy, she said. Can’t be late. She took me by the thumb, dragged me out of the house, pulled me into the gorgeous and, as it turned out, deceitful sunshine that kissed us on the doorstep.

The school was less than a quarter-mile from our New Jersey home. I walked. She skipped. She was too short to notice the view from the road, a panoramic snapshot of the tip of Lower Manhattan, 14 miles away. It was a speck in the distance except for the Twin Towers, permanently aligned together like a middle and index finger. The peace sign.

She didn’t want me to return home. At that age, kids are clingy, and she stayed tattooed to my right calf in the schoolyard for five minutes. Then 10. I suddenly knew how Alonzo Mourning felt years ago, trying to shake his shin free of Jeff Van Gundy. It will be OK, I gently assured Victoria, before she reluctantly released, allowing my blood to resume circulation. That’s all I thought about on the way home, laughing at her terrified reaction, totally oblivious to the updated view of the Towers, the peace sign suddenly transformed into a pair of matchsticks.

Poured a glass of juice, turned on the radio for two seconds, then rushed out of the house, back to the street, to the curb to look eastward at the charcoal New York sky. Then ran back into the house just in time to hear the Pentagon was hit, too. The Pentagon! That’s where my younger brother Scott works.

“He hasn’t called yet, but don’t worry,” my mother assured me from Washington, D.C. “The phone lines are down. Your brother will call. He always does.”

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