13 years ago, I lost a friend on the 93rd floor of the North Tower.
I delivered his eulogy about a month later. I was 26 years old and was tasked with honoring my friend’s life, making sense of the senseless and comforting the mourning. It remains to this day, the hardest message i’ve had to deliver.
Every year, as this day comes around, I try to remind myself of the lessons that I’ve learned since then. I repost my thoughts every year to as an exercise of reminding myself (and hopefully some of you, too) of what it was like. I guess I am trying to take that #neverforget hashtag seriously.
My hope is that through reading this, you are reminded of God’s goodness and sovereignty.
Planes exploding like missiles, skyscrapers falling like waterfalls, and debris scattering like sawdust. Eleven years ago, I turned on the TV and saw the same pictures that you have seen.
Andy, my closest friend at that time, worked on the 93rd floor of the North Tower. No one had heard from him. During the week, I drove around to local hospitals to see if there had been any unidentified victims, dead or alive. But I was grieved to realize that there just weren’t any remains to be identified.
By the time Saturday arrived, I had come to grips with the fact that I would never see Andy alive again. This was not a sudden realization, it was a slowly diminishing hope. I, myself, had to make the decision that he was dead. There was no one to tell me, no one to decide for me. I had to be the one to kill the possibility of his survival. Some decided before me and some decided after me. But when I decided, I decided alone.
In my mourning, the impulse was to stare at the injustice of it all—What had Andy done to any of these people?—and blame someone. I wanted to climb to the top of the tallest building still standing and shake my fist at God and yell, “How could you do this? How could you let this happen?”
And then I remembered something that stopped me dead in my tracks.
Today marks the 7th Anniversary of 9/11.
Many of the Well blog readers may not know, but this very congregation lost one its members in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Andy Kim. Andy was and remains to be very dear to the people that knew him. At the time of his death, he was probably one of my closest friends. We spoke nearly every day about the mundane and the grave. 7 years later and he is still dearly missed.
I was asked to give his eulogy at his memorial service a month after workers first started looking for his body. There was no casket and there never was. I have long since said that I think the worst way to mourn the death of someone is a slowly diminishing hope of survival.
The following is my Eulogy of Andy Kim. As we all remember that day, may you be reminded of God’s grace and sovereignty.