Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ten Years Later... (A Note to Jake and Dylan)

                                              Stu with Jake and Dylan Labor Day 2001

  Its' difficult to believe it's been 10 years since the 9/11 attacks.  It is for us, who witnessed it on our TV screens, watching the city and Towers we love be attacked so brutally.  For many, it's been a long 10 years.  Loved ones killed, having to raise a family without spouse, children growing up without their parent(s).  It breaks my heart.

     Approximately six years ago, bloggers who wished to participate were given a name of one of the victims to write a Tribute.  The name randomly selected for me was Stuart Meltzer.  He was 32 years old and had a young family he loved very much.  He was on the 105th floor working at Cantor Fitzgerald when the the North Tower was hit.  His wife, Lisa, was left to raise their sons Jake age 3 and Dylan still an infant.  Each year I repost the Tribute to Stu.  When returning to legacy.com each September, I see there are always new posts.  Thoughts for the family and memories of Stu.  I can feel his brother Ken's pain writing his message to Stu every year.  Reading these has left an indelible mark on me.  The senselessness of his death.  His family left behind.  Lisa, Jake, and Dylan have been in my thoughts and prayers ever since.  Honestly, they pop up in my head at random times during the day, on holidays, wondering how they are doing.  Are the boys okay?  I cry.  I pray.  I want to know that they are doing all right.

This year, I received my answer.  I'm so thankful that Rachel Meltzer contacted me after seeing the Tribute I reposted last year.  It was truly a gift from heaven to hear from her.

                                                   Larry coaching Jake's baseball team

Stu's sons Jake (13) and Dylan (10) are doing well.  These boys and their mother are doing well due to the strong family surrounding them.  Stu's brother, Larry, almost immediately took it upon himself to be their in Stu's place for the boys.  Coaching baseball teams and taking them to Boston Red Sox games (I'm convinced Stu was their biggest fan).  He has been there for Stu's wife Lisa when she was in need.  It seems the family all moved to Long Island to help Lisa with raising her sons.  What an incredible family.

                                                Larry Meltzer with his nephew Jake

Rachel's words tell it best:

 "I humbly submit that my husband has been the most incredible person I know in his unwavering singular support and love of Stu's boys since that time.  He is a star in my eyes and a rare individual in the eyes of so so many in this community.

Plenty of people were 'committed' to the children and widows after 9/11.  But time passes and people forget and move on.  Not Larry, he has put his whole life focus on honoring his brother's memory.  He is a center of the Syossett Baseball Association and has coached the oldest nephew Jake, since the time of Stu's passing just about -- came out every weekend nearly from NJ in the first few years, then in 2007, we all moved here (including his parents from Cape Cod) to be near to the boys.  Larry not only mentors those boys, but is always there when Lisa (Stu's widow) needs a helping hand in any way.  Stu would be immensely proud of Larry, and in life, they were absolute inseparable best friends in a way that is rare and beautiful to see.  The Meltzer family is a baseball family and through the coaching and Larry's commitment to SBA and taking Jake and Dylan to Red Sox and local Mets games, he keeps this alive.  Stu pitched in college at University of Michigan and was a great athlete.  Larry too played in college and still plays in a competitive over 40 league.  Not only does Larry do for those boys we love, but I feel his example of how valued his brother's memory is is a testament to what it means to prize family.  Our family, our 4 children, see every day what defines a commitment to family.  The world doesn't put their money where their mouth is often enough and family gets a lot of lip service but not follow up action and reality.  Larry is steadfast and inspiring.  That's my take and what I can offer that others may not have perspective on.... "

     In the recent article, Jake recalled hearing about the death of Osama Bin Laden.  It was on the day of his Bar Mitzvah.  Uncanny, eh?  Jake felt it was a gift from his dad on this special day.  His mom, Lisa, stated, "He feels like his father gave him that gift.  It was a milestone in Jake's life.  It was as if Stu wanted to say 'I'm here.  This is my gift to you.'"

                                            Larry and Rachel Meltzer with Jake and Dylan
  Jake and Dylan are members of Tuesday's Children which is a non profit organization for all the children of 9/11.   Jake searches the internet looking for something about his dad that he didn't know already.  The boys do not remember much of their dad.  They were so young!  Well, Jake and Dylan, I did not know your dad personally, but I sure wish I did.  From reading all of the comments by his friends, I admire him greatly.  I admire your mom for being so strong for you.  I admire your dad's family for 'stepping up to the plate' and being their for you.  Speak with your dad's friends since childhood.  Hear all the stories they tell.  Write them down.  Don't forget any of them.  Collect photos of your dad.  Look at the pictures some of his friends keep on their desks to this day as a reminder of their good friend, Stu.  The more you see and hear, the closer you will feel to him.  Know that your dad is looking over all of you.  He's always there.  He never really left.  Talk to him frequently.  

                                                        Larry Meltzer with Jake and Dylan
 Honestly, Jake and Dylan, to know your dad's true character, integrity, and knowing what to truly value in life, you only need look as far as your family.  Look to your mom, your grandparents, and your Uncle Larry who seems to be a mirror of your father.  Know that one day you will see your dad again.  Until then, you have an angel and warrior watching over you.

     If anyone happens to be in New York, specifically Long Island Saturday September 10th, there is a Memorial Softball Game for Stu.  

Stuart Todd Meltzer
at a Memorial Softball Game
Saturday, September 10th
11a.m. game time
Syosset Woodbury Park
Long Island, New York
hosted by Stu’s Family

RSVP to rachel@meltzerteam.com

    To everyone reading this post, time has passed and we all go on with our very busy lives.  Remember, it's not so easy for everyone who lost someone on 9/11.  Yes time goes on, but there is still a gaping hole in their lives. Don't forget them.  You can watch all the television specials on this 10th Anniversary, but I felt more of what the families are going through by reading Edith Lutnick's new book.  Cantor Fitzgerald lost nearly 700 of their 'family'. Their fight continues to this day.