Several pedestrians were killed by people falling from the sky. A fireman was
killed by a body falling from the sky.
But he reached for her hand and she reached for his hand and they leaped out
the window holding hands.
I try to whisper prayers for the sudden dead and the harrowed families of the
dead and the screaming souls of the murderers but I keep coming back to his
hand and her hand nestled in each other with such extraordinary ordinary
succinct ancient naked stunning perfect simple ferocious love.
Their hands reaching and joining are the most powerful prayer I can imagine,
the most eloquent, the most graceful. It is everything that we are capable of
against horror and loss and death. It is what makes me believe that we are not
craven fools and charlatans to believe in God, to believe that human beings
have greatness and holiness within them like seeds that open only under great
fires, to believe that some unimaginable essence of who we are persists past
the dissolution of what we were, to believe against such evil hourly evidence
that love is why we are here.
No one knows who they were: husband and wife, lovers, dear friends, colleagues,
strangers thrown together at the window there at the lip of hell. Maybe they
didn't even reach for each other consciously, maybe it was instinctive, a
reflex, as they both decided at the same time to take two running steps and
jump out the shattered window, but they did reach for each other, and
they held on tight, and leaped, and fell endlessly into the smoking canyon, at
two hundred miles an hour, falling so far and so fast that they would have
blacked out before they hit the pavement near Liberty Street so hard that there
was a pink mist in the air.
Jennifer Brickhouse saw them holding hands, and Stuart DeHann saw them
holding hands, and I hold onto that.
Copyright 2002 by Brian Doyle. All rights reserved. Reprinted here by
permission of the author.
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