Back in the days immediately following September 11, 2001, my friend Adrienne Mand and I were lost.
All around the city, people were looking. For answers. For meaning. For questions. We, too, were looking. For something to do. For somewhere to go. To help. To assist. To ease. To … something.
The one task that called us—oddly—was handing out LOOKING FOR flyers. One day, as the relatives and friends of victims were waiting outside the Armory for information, Mand and I made an announcement: “If any of you want us to hang up your flyers around the city, we’d be happy to do it.” With that, we were beseiged by people, stretching out their hands, handing us pieces of paper, thanking us (Thanking US?) for helping—even though we all probably knew, deep down, that no help would really help at all (I actually recall once woman, the wife of a man named Robert Pugliese, saying to me, “I know he’s gone. I just know.”).
For the next day or two, Mand and I roamed New York, hanging these papers everywhere. I’ll always—always—remember walking into a midtown Kinko’s and telling the manager what we were doing (I have chills right now, just writing this). He said, “Make as many copies as you want. Don’t worry about paying anything.”
When we were finished, I found myself with a couple of leftover flyers. I Googled the names and one—Tyler Ugolyn—became a story for SI.
Another name was Monica Goldstein.
I’m not sure why, a decade later, Monica’s name has stuck with me. I still have those flyers in a photo album upstairs, and hers is, along with Tyler’s, the most haunting. It shows a bunch of photos of her—young, happy, pretty, eager. The pictures scream, “I’m living! I’m living!” And here she was, gone.
Today, haunted (like many) by 9.11’s ghost, I Googled Monica Goldstein and found this page. She was engaged to be married at the time—25-years old and heading toward the world. Right now, 10 years later, there’s a man either unmarried or married to someone else. There are children—her children—who were never born. Who never existed. There are parents and siblings and friends living with the pain every … single … day.
That’s the worst horror of 9.11
Not the What Was.
The What Will Never Be.