As ‘9/11 Kids,’ We Only Have The Stories Other People Tell Us About Our Dad

Lindsay (left) and Sophia Cook at a memorial benefit for their father, Dennis Cook, who was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. (Courtesy Lindsay Cook)

Editors’ NoteOn the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Dennis Cook was where you’d expect to find him on a Tuesday morning — at work. He was a 33-year-old bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald, which had its offices on the top floors of the World Trade Center.

Dennis was killed that day, when a hijacked plane crashed into the North Tower. More than 650 of his coworkers also died that morning.

He left behind a wife, Dana, and two young daughters — Sophia, who was 3, and Lindsay, who was just 6 months old.

Research shows that most of us don’t have memories before the age of 3. Sophia and Lindsay are young women now, and they’ve spent their lives coping with the loss of a father they can’t remember. They can’t outrun the tragic and violent death of their dad — the nation has been trained to “never forget” — but they want a say in how it defines their lives. And, more than anything, they want to understand who their dad was, and which parts of him live on in them.

This is Sophia and Lindsay Cook, in their own words.

LINDSAY: I’m definitely a “9/11 kid.” I know some people don’t like the title, but I guess if the shoe fits … I’m still figuring out how much, what percentage, what fraction of 9/11 is part of me. I’m 20 on the 20th anniversary, and I’ve still been figuring out what that means to me.

SOPHIA: I think that’s something that my mom did a really good job of … that she never wanted us to see that as part of our identity. She wanted us to, you know, it’s something that happened to us. It’s very, very sad. But you can still be your own person.

SOPHIA: So on Sept. 11, 2001, it was my first day of preschool. My mom was going to drop me off, and when she was in the parking lot she heard on the radio a plane had crashed into the twin towers. She obviously didn’t know what was happening, but you had to assume the very worst. And that’s kind of how that day began and unfolded for her in the middle of what would have otherwise been a very regular, normal day.

LINDSAY: One day she was living with an infant and a 3 year old, and she had her husband by her side. And then the next day, she didn’t.

For the audio and full version of this story, continue on WBUR.org.

 

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