Uhuru Houston was born in Brooklyn in 1969. He joined the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department in 1993, and three years later married Sonya, whom he had met when they were both students at Norfolk State University. In 1999, he was assigned to the World Trade Center. On the morning of 11 September 2001, Uhuru Houston was one of seventy-two officers to die when terrorists hijacked four planes and flew them into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon building in Virginia, and a field in Pennsylvania. He left behind Sonya and their two children, Hasani and Hannah. A decade after his death, Sonya wrote him the following letter.
(This letter is taken from the book, Letters of Note: New York. For more info, visit the Letters of Note shop. Photo: Uhuru and family, from the Voices of September 11th Living Memorial Project.)
Yet another gorgeous early fall day, with the temps in the high 70s to low 80s, warm, only a few fluffy cumulus clouds in the sky. The perfect day to be outside.
Ten years earlier, the weather was the same. The day our lives would change forever.
By now, we all know the events of that horrific day that would change America and my life forever. No need to go all the way back right now.
I want to fast-forward you to the page we are on now. The book that is still being written, the lives that are still being lived and the pain that still exists. This is just a reality check of a life that was changed in a blink of an eye. An angel that was taken too soon and his legacy that must continue on through his children.
People ask us, “How are you doing?” with that sad, head-tilted-to-the-side, and somber look of pain and anguish.
“We are good,” I respond, with the same tilt, and somber smile that holds a lot of pain.
“The kids are fine, getting big. Hasani is in his first year of high school now; Hannah is in the fifth grade and enjoys doing flips and is a social butterfly. And the baby, Haven, who is almost three years old. Wow, time sure does move quickly.”
They usually continue on and I go about my life. This new, rebuilt life minus you, my beloved husband.
You were a great man, with a contagious smile that lit up the room as soon as you walked in. Everyone loved you. You were a man who truly came into his own, a wonderful, creative, funny man who loved his family. You were a great provider and as sweet as sweet potato pie that you enjoyed eating at Thanksgiving. I can’t sing the praises of you enough. Not enough words in the English dictionary to describe you and do you justice, so I will stop here.
So with three children now and living in New York City, there is always something going on. Needless to say, my life is always moving and shaking. The kids keep me extremely busy and their schedules are crazy. They have auditions, basketball, dance, tutoring, music class and education, which is still so high on our list of priorities. Studying and homework becomes a huge part of our day.
You never know where your help will come from. We take it as it comes. I’ve learned to not question things-why and where “help” comes from. Just take it. We have learned to be very independent and do things on our own, so to accept help can be difficult at times.
Mom is your biggest cheerleader. She always wears her PAPD T-shirts, and with the same tilted head and somber look explains to EVERYONE how she lost her son on 9/11. She tells her friends in Maryland, “You know, I gotta go to New York ‘cause of 9/11.”
She almost brags about it. Not in a gloating way but because she really misses you. I try not to let everyone know. She does the opposite. I believe this is her way of dealing with her grief as well. She is so strong.
The children keep me young, and they remind me every day of you. You live on through them. Hasani’s disposition and mannerisms are all you. Hannah looks like you but is very feminine and girly. They both are kind and compassionate children. I can’t wait to see who they become as they grow up. I know you are looking down on them and smiling. You would be so proud.
Love always and forever,